Monday, September 18, 2017

My Strange Problem

Foir the past three or four months, I've been receiving an invoice from Perricone (make up/skin care) addressed to James B. Smith and my address. The first three or four, I sent back marked "not at this address" and "return to sender" with no result. The invoices kept coming. Oh, I know they are invoices as I finally opened one. I decided to stop wasting my time and started shredding them instead of returning them.

So today, the plot thickens. I get this envelope from London (England) addressed to him and I opened it. It is a magazine called "Trans Life" for transgender people. What's odd is that this magazine was airmailed so it seems like something someone paid for. Ana was here so I paged through the magazine for literally five seconds and out it went. It did occur to me to cut the label and return it, but frankly I resented having to pay anything toward this.

I asked a friend if he thought this could in any way be a scam and he didn't think so. Meanwhile my friend has recently been plagued by fake IRS calls telling him he's in big trouble.

Any thoughts? The only thing I can come up with is to alert the post office to not deliver James B Smith mail to me. I don't know how successful that request will be.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Long time, no write

The days fly by and if I don't have anything particular to share, there goes another day. My news of late is that Mary, Michelle and I celebrated 50 years of friendship this past weekend in Washington DC. We met in September 1967 when Mary and I were freshmen and Michelle was a sophomore. By a lucky (for me) twist of fate, the computer put us in three rooms right next to each other.

Mary had these photos from 1967 -- Mary on top, me, and Michelle in her hair curlers. Anyone of our generation looks at those curlers, you just can't believe we slept with those things digging into our scalp. And took 15 - 20 minutes each night to "set" our hair. Yikes... so here we are:

I actually remember when that photo was taken. We tried to make it look as if I was standing next to Warren Beatty, who was the sex god du jour due to Bonnie & Clyde.

We couldn't find any restaurants/bars we remember from college days, bu we do remember a chain called Hot Shoppes, similar to Howard Johnson's, where the signature dish was a forerunner of the Big Mac called the Mighty Mo. I have no idea what Mo is.

Mary found a recipe for Mighty Mo's on line and at the last minute we decided to skip the middle bun and extra patty of beef. Then, of course, we had French fries. I have to say the Mighty Mo (with its secret sauce which is like 1000 island dressing was good. Here's what it looked like:

It really was good -- one of those three napkins required burgers.

That was Friday and then on Saturday we went to our alma mater American University and met with a woman (a sophomore named Emma) who filled us in on what's what. Lots of new buildings, but enough of the campus was the same that we recognized it. We drove around campus for a while and then got great deli sandwiches and went back to Mary's.

We just stayed in, gabbed, etc.

On Sunday, we played a game I'd brought called Spontuneious which involves coming up with (and singing) five words of a song with a certain word in it. Lots of laughs with that. We like games that are simple and don't take hours to finish. And this one is.

Later, some other friends came over and Michelle made shrimp tacos, and shredded beef tacos and Mexican corn, and cole slaw and Michelle's daughter and husband brought a peach cobbler and mult-berry pie from this wonderful farm stand.

I left early on Monday and had a really wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Harvey Reports

This is from a woman I used to work with who lives in Houston:

Hey! Yes we are ok. at home safe and no water in the house. We are very lucky to be on higher ground. This has been quite the experience. Didn’t have to worry about these things in Denver/ABQ  lol!   I have never seen this much rain in my life.

And here's Melissa's front yard. She told me she slept through it although she had noted that the tree was "wobbling" a bit more than normal... but she hadn't realized it fell overnight until her neighbor texted her.

At least it fell the right way, right onto her neighbor's fence but it didn't leave a scratch. Her son came and cut and carted the tree away so that was that. Thank God.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Happenings

I totally weenied out on anything about the eclipse... kept looking outside and it seemed to get a bit dusky, but that's about it. I had no glasses or viewing device and I didn't want to take a chance (says the Old Lady in me.)

So Mary reports:

I decided to go outside and try the colander as a vehicle to see the eclipse (I got the suggestion from Neil Degrasse Tyson and others).  I hope you can see it from the picture - I thought it was pretty, every hole showing the pattern of the eclipse.  We didn't get a full eclipse, I think it was up to 82%.   Jill joined me and my neighbor Matt in the alley so we were able to look at the eclipse through her glasses.  It was pretty cool.

And Fran:

 I made a shoebox viewer which worked well and joined some neighbors out on the patio/tennis courts.

 A neighbor Michael made a big box viewer which was neat (see big white box in photo) and several others shared their eclipse glasses (best views). It was heartwarming to see we are attuned to the cosmos. Spectacular even though d.c.only had 80% coverage.

My favorite tweet was Madeline Albright who said that the eclipse proves that darkness is temporary.

Amy in Alaska

Amy and her husband are on an extended trip to Alaska... here's the lodge they've stayed in and her room.

She says:

Finally a room I'm not a little embarrassed to send you a picture of. This is the Mantasuka Lodge right across the valley from a glacier

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Baby Lily

Here's a growing Lily who was born last week, or two months ago or I guess sometime in June. Lily is Mary's great niece.

Michelle and the Polar Bears

Michelle is somewhere in Northern Canada (way Northern) on a polar bear trip and here are some she saw and she brags that she didn't get attacked or eaten.

Monday, August 14, 2017

My First Uber Ride

Have finally joined the Uber crowd. Had a doctor's appointment at 10 am and knew I wouldn't be able to get a cab so I downloaded Uber, played with it a bit and was afraid I would mistakenly order a car.

So this morning, I went outside, entered my address, entered my destination and within two minutes (really, two minutes) a car arrived. I told the driver this was my first Uber trip and he said "Welcome to Uber!" I did Uber coming home as well as the Uber fare is about $10 less than a cab.

All in all, I had an excellent experience. When we were pulling up to my destination at the doctor's office, I asked the driver if I had to sign something or just get out. He told me I had to say goodbye to him first and then get out... which I did.

My question is... who tips Uber? I have asked two people, both of whom had the same answer which is "tipping is new, good question." I didn't tip the first guy for no other reason that "you don't have to tip Uber" flashed in my mind... and returning, the fare was $22 and it asked for a two dollar, three dollar or five dollar tip... so I gave three dollars.

I was slow to adapt to Uber as it is typically quite easy to get a cab, but not in rush hour times like this morning.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Weird Dream

I had a very weird dream last night, which was enjoyable, but I have no idea what it means.

So first real life: Yesterday Mary arrived at her vacation place where her room overlooks the ocean and she sent me a photo of her room and I replied that I love to go to sleep with the balcony doors open and fall asleep to the sound of the waves.

Further real life: I think the last time I stayed in a room like this was in Fort Lauderdale where when I was looking out at the ocean, I swear I saw a whale offshore spouting. Later I overheard hotel staff talking about the whale that was offshore and I went over and said that I had seen it as well so I supposed I did see a whale from my room.

So now to the dream: I was in a hotel room, looking out at the ocean and saw a whale. I went to get a camera and this was all realistic, what I would do/act in real life and I photographed this whale. The next thing I know there are lots of whales, diving and breaching, and I'm photographing like mad and being really happy I'm getting such good photos.  Sometimes a whale would "body surf" toward the shore and I'd get a really good photo.

The other detail is that there were people in the water playing in and around the whale, trying to ride them, and it annoyed me they were disturbing the whales and I also thought it was dangerous for them.

So I've googled "dream about whales" and then "dream about photographing" and both are very positive outcomes... whales represent important large issues and photographing represents "keeping a close eye on" something... but I can't for the life of me figure out what these big issues are that I'm keeping tabs on... finally buying a new microwave?? Taking retirement money from my nestegg like my financial guy urges me to do even though I don't want to??

When I was in therapy, my therapist used to tell me to forget all the symbolism stuff and think about how the dream made me feel... ok, so this dream made me feel as if I were really lucky to be seeing all these magnificent creatures and proud of myself that I was getting photos of them which I wanted to share with my friends.  The dream has come into my mind all day today and it still makes me feel very positive.

Monday, August 7, 2017

My Conversations with Lane

Here are a few things I've gotten out of them for the past week or so.

A book recommendation. Her mother in law gave her a box of books including SOUTH OF BROAD which was written by Pat Conroy, one of my favorites since her wrote PRINCE OF TIDES. I ordered a used copy, based on her recommendation, from Amazon which arrived today.

Help with a scam. I have gotten four past due invoices to my address, including my apartment number, but a different name from Perricone cosmetics. I have sent three of them back, marked "return to sender, not at this address" and they keep coming as I received another one today. She says it's a scam, with the belief that some people will pay it just to make it stop, and ignore it. She has been through this with a fake QC bill. So I guess I'll send one more back and then ignore any more.

Food Envy.  We were of the same mind on this. If we scan a restaurant menu and one entree pops out as what we want, we have no problem. We can each be very decisive. But if we're torn between two items and our companion is going to do one, we're stumped as we may want A entree, but we fear jealousy of our cocmpanion's B entree. Why is this? I added to this quandary the notion that I actually like when my companion orders somethig I absolutely don't like (salmon, liver, etc) as then I know for sure I won't suffer from food envy.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

What I'm Reading

This is a hard book to explain. One of the authors, Trae Crowder, is a stand up comedian who calls himself the Liberal Redneck. I first saw some of his pieces on YouTube during the election. He is the real thing, born and raised in Tennessee with an absert father,, a mother who served jail time and had a pill addiction and I guess people's (including me) fascination with him is his liberal views.

So the book is all about the South, its traditions, its poltics, its people and how it got that way. In between these chapters are personal stories from the three authors. I have to say this book challenged (in a good way) some of my longheld views... gorwing up in NY, during the civil rights era, we simply thought of southerners as stupid and more. He does not defend beliefs, but explains them. Ok, it's hard to describe, but I am enjoying it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Do you love me or my lobster roll connection?

Got an email from my grade school friend who I shared a lobster roll lunch with about two weeks ago. She wrote "I think it's time for another lobster roll" and I thought "oh good" until I realized she didn't mention wanting to spend time with me. She doesn't want my company, my conversation, my delightful personality... she wants a damn lobster roll!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hmmm... what do my friends think of my reading tastes?

Got this from a friend, and I have to say the book does appeal to me...

He wrote:

The book below is written by a guy I follow on Twitter.  He is a sports writer, and a pretty liberal guy.  I read him more for his non-sports comments than sports stories.  He wrote a book about his great great grandmother who killed her husband with an axe.  He discovered this story while doing geneology research on his family.  I'll let you know how it is...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Solar Eclipse

There's one coming on August 21, and has a neat calculator where you enter your zip code and it tells you how much of the eclipse you'll see.

Here's what I get:

In zip code , you will see a partial solar eclipse.

The eclipse will peak at 2:44:56 pm EDT, when the moon obscures 71.3% of the sun.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Slow Learner

Lane calls me today and tells me she felt like doing something special for herself and we talked about her challenge finding a manicure place she liked and how everywhere she went was booked.

No clue.

She then tells me how she and her husband are going out for a fancy dinner tonight and just as I was abut to say "Oh special occasion?"

I realized it was her birthday and sputtered out my stupidity. She wasn't being coy because we had earlier last week talked about the dinner and her birthday and where they were going and working out the transportation arrangements since her husband was coming from work and she'd then have a car too.

So I did wish her heartfelt birthday greetings and just now sent her a YouTube link which is cheesy and kitschy of people singing Happy Birthday Lane and evidently they have it for every name... so

Sunday, July 30, 2017


this is Mary's great niece Adelyn and buddy.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


After Mary saw an Elizabeth Warren post/selfie about going to the Lincoln Monument for "renewal," she and her neighbor decided to do the same. Here they are:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Email that Annoyed me This Morning

Ok, so it's minor, but I got annoyed this morning by:

1. Email from the Miami Herald. Years and I mean years ago, I had to register to read an article (something I will no longer do and haven't) and I have been unable to get off their list. Every so often I get an email from them saying unless I renew I'll be dropped from the list, but, of course, it's an empty threat. I used to spend time on the site looking for unsubscribe instructions but all there is concerns unsubbing from the newspaper itself.

2. An email that said "How to Measure Your Belly Fat" -- Uh, no thanks.

3. Any email that has "Last Chance" in the subject line.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Not Much to Say

Believe it or not, I'm sitting here with a sweater on as it's in the mid-60s....

One thing I will say is that I just finished reading Martin Short's memoir called "You Don't Say" named after his Ed Grimley character... and I really enjoyed it. Of course, we know all the people mentioned such as he lived with Gilda Radner (many years ago) for two years. The person who comes across as this terrific guy is Steve Martin which makes me happy. Also Paul Schaeffer. But if you're looking for a light beach read, try this. I got a used copy from Amazon.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Shopping Spree

I can get overly conservative about spending money -- I hate cheapness, and it's not about that... I will be the first to throw in more than my share of a split check... well, typically I just let my dinnermate tell me how much I owe and I never question it. I don't even care about paying more than my share.

However when it comes to replacing things past their prime, I can get tight with the bucks so today I threw caution to the wind and bought three things in rapid progression, all from Amazon.

First I replaced a seat cushion in the chair I sit in most of the day which had gone from about three inches to about 1/2 inch over time. That's one.

Then I replaced my Sonicare toothbrush. Don't know how long Ive had this one, but I'd say upwards of five years and recently the brush head has taken to falling out during the brushing. What I am very happy to do, up to a point, is just stick it back in and resume brushing. But enough is enough. I have to resurrect that mantra of mine: You're not that poor.

And I'm not, but sometimes I surely act like it.

Then the third thing I ordered is a new Keurig coffee machine. Again, mine is about 4-5 years old and for the past year (yes, year!) there has been a short in it (or so I diagnosed) so that the "add water" light never goes out so the machine won't work. Hey, no problem. I just have to slap it and bang it down on the counter for a minute or so (as Barbara has witnessed me doing) and I will eventually get it to work. So it will be out with the old, in with the new, and my Keurig slapping days will hopefully be over.

And because of Amazon Prime, I'll get all my new things on Monday.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Joys of Home Ownership

Brad's daughter, who loves snakes, found this right by their door. According to Brad, it's non-poisonous and he sort of poked it with a stick and it was on its way. This is in Albuquerque.

Anxiety Dream

I had an anxiety dream last night that was so intense that it's stayed with me even this late into the day. In short, I had to take a US History final and I didn't know what classroom to go to. Plus I hadn't studied, plus I couldn't find the textbook, plus my friends (some of whom I could identify as real people from high school days) all had these precise notes about where and when their finals were and of course they had all diligently studied.

I knew it was at 2 pm but I didn't know what building or room (it was a college campus) and Mary was my roommate in the dream and I asked her how I could find out where my final was and she blandly said, "I don't know" and that was really a funny (in retrospect) part of the dream that EVEN MARY ISN"T HELPING ME.

I realized that even though I didn't buy the textbook I had US History books in my personal library so I could review those so I was searching the bookcases and all the books were Mary's and I wondered what happened to my books.

So in the dream I got this brilliant idea of calling the university, asking for the history department and then asking where my final is. I pick up a phone, and you know what happens in anxiety dreams. Phone didn't work, couldn't make a connection, kept trying.

This dream had a subplot which is I was trying to do laundry. I had a whole bunch of dresses (??) and I wondered in the dream why I had gone so long in not doing laundry (which is NOT like me in real life). It was one of those non-sensical subplots where I kept gathering them, and losing them, and gathering them and then finally I picked out four items to take down the hall to the washing machine thrilled that I was finally making progress and there were two washing machines, both of which were in use.

What added to this anxiety in real life is that I was having this dream early in the morning and I'd wake up 80% and think it was real, and doze back to sleep, and wake up again (or thought I was awake) until finally I woke up 100% and was relieved it was...

just a dream!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Passing of a Teacher

When I was in elementary school, the smart kids (of course I was one of them...) were presented with French lessons starting in first grade. The teacher was Madame Simpson and she was also the mother of my good friend Hester. Her mother had actually created the job and sold the school district on teaching kids French. When I would go to Hester's house to play, I often had to speak French and the one thing I remember about dinners is that they served salad after the main meal in the European fashion.

In any event, Madame Simpson became somewhat of an institution and we adored her and realized as adults what an amazing opportunity we were given. But today, Hester gave me the sad news that Madame had passed away peacefully. She was 99.  In addition to the language, Madame also taught us French culture and geography. In sixth grade, we went on a French class field trip to a New York City restaurant called Les Pyrenees and then on a tour of the Ile de France, which at that time was one of the luxury ocean liners. I still remember that day vividly.

To be honest, one thing I remember was the first course in the restaurant being liver pate and I wrapped mine in my napkin and the waiter realized what I had done, but just laughed. Never did like liver pate.

I asked Hester if she wanted me to tell the classmates and she said yes... so this is what I sent:

Hester told me today that Madame Simpson passed away peacefully last week. She said she had already told some classmates and I asked her if she wanted me to send a note to the entire class and she said yes.
For those of us whose lives were touched by Madame Simpson, her passing is a sad time. I told Hester the other day that I can still see her mother entering our class and saying "Bonjour Classe" and we'd reply in a chorus, "Bonjour Madame Simpson."
The first time I was in Paris in my 30s, I was on the Metro on a line that ran both above and below ground and all of a sudden out of the window I saw the Eiffel Tower and my immediate reaction was to gasp and think, "It's just like Madame Simpson showed us." I remember pictures of various Paris landmarks pasted on colored construction paper and we'd have to identify them.
We thank Madame for her zeal and grace and send our best thoughts to Hester in this very difficult time.

Me again: I was so sad about this and I realized that part of my sadness, a selfish part, is my own ageing. That as long as an elementary school teacher was still alive, I wasn't "the oldest" but now we are.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Highlight of My Day

Years ago, in college, Mary and I would sometimes talk about the happiest thing that happened to us that day before we went to bed. Ok, this makes us sound doofy, but we did it. And over the years, I sometimes ask myself the same question and typically it's the kindness of strangers, or an unexpected and appreciated compliment when I needed it, but today it was meeting Coco.

I had left the doctor's office and I was sitting on this little wall, waiting for a cab to come my way, when this little black dog being walked came over to me as if she knew me... her name is Coco and her companion told me she is a SCHNOODLE... which is a cross between a schnauzer and a poodle. She even put her little paws up on me, and the owner apologized and I said I didn't care, which I really didn't, and she said, "Coco likes to make friends." So that was the nicest thing that happened to me today.

And you?

Here's a stock photo of a Schnoodle:

Coco's front paws were white and I asked if she were old or if that was her coloring and it's just her coloring. She really is a cute dog.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

PS to Post Below

Just got this from someone who also knew Katrina:

I got an email from Katrina the other day. Voices from the dead. There was a dozen or so names on the address line, all from [company name], as far as I could tell. It came to my [company] email address.
Really weird when a dead person’s address book is hacked. Only message was a link, which no sane person would ever click on.
But it was a reminder of how sad Katrina’s cancer was.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Reason #9 billion to hate spammers

This was quite a coincidence. Was talking to Mary who was cleaning out some paperwork type boxes and looked at the cards and letters she got when her father died  in 1993. She told me two of my friends had sent cards, one being my friend Katrina who died of pancreatic cancer about three years ago.

About an hour later, I go on line and in the queue you, of course, see the senders' names, not as email addresses but as their regular names. So I scan the list of new email and there's an email from Katrina (with her first and last name). I have to say it sort of freaked me out a bit.

So I open it and it's one of those spams that has a "look at this cool thing" with a URL. And I thought even when you're dead, you're not safe from the spammers.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Baby Lily and her Great Aunt Mary

Mary says:

I love holding baby Lily. She is tiny. She lost weight, more than they like, so they had her on supplemental feeding and she started gaining again but she's only about 6 lb 1oz.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mary and Fran torture me again... with their food

So Mary and Fran decided to get the jump on July 4th with this feast today. I told them that this is one of my favorite meals -- definitely in the top 3. Then I realized they were missing pickles, but I would have gladly brought my own.

As a summer sidenote, somehow a lightning bug got into my apartment last night, and with its first blink out that I saw of the corner of my eye, it startled me... had no idea what it was... then it continued periodically to blink and I figured out what it is.

Here's the meal:

and dessert:

Teddy Enjoys His Summer

While Barb paddled the kayak, Mr. Teddy enjoyed the ride.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

"Bear Sighting in DC" -- that was the subject line

And I fell for it since bears have been wandering into suburban areas, but it wasn't THAT kind of bear...

From Fran:

Blue bear wearing cherry blossom pants picks up morning paper outside his home on Yuma St (DC).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reunion Photo

This is Saturday night dinner at the reunion. The woman on my left is Jayne who I was friends with in high school, through college and we worked together in the summers of college. I was in her wedding and she is still married to the same man who I still think of as a college kid. The woman behind me I was also friends with and her mother was our Girl Scout leader.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

50th Reunion Report

I could tell 100 different anecdotes about this weekend, but the bottom line is that I am glad I went and had a good time. The last reunion I went to was 15 years ago and I had some trouble recognizing people. My class wasn't that big -- 167 people. Everyone seemed grateful to be there and really basking in these lifelong friendships.

There was a sense that we grew up in a really special place, which is true in a stable community so that many of us were classmates from kindergarten on. At one event, a teacher who taught third grade showed up and it must be a very strange experience to see your former third graders as senior citizens. I didn't have her, but my younger sister did and adored this teacher-- and that's pretty much how everyone felt about her.

I have such random memories of individual kids (that's what I still call them) and at Saturday's dinner, this kid who I was never friends with was at my table... but I did have this memory of him that he had this lunchbox while the rest of us (and the table agreed) had to carry our lunch in a paperbag. Believe it or not, he remembered this lunch box -- it was a Davy Crockett lunch box and old Davy was an iconic figure of our youth, including a tv show... and he said that it was even cooler than the lunchbox... his uncle was a furrier and made him a REAL Davy Crockett hat.

Anyway, I did have a great time!

Here's what one day old looks like...

This is Baby Lily, Mary's latest great niece who was born last night. Mother and baby doing fine.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Senior Prom

This is my niece from her senior prom... didn't have a date-date, but she went with a group of kids which somehow seems more sensible than the Noah's Ark scene we endured. There was a girl in my class whose date stood her up (somebody's cousin from out of town) for the junior prom and she showed up with her father who was a policeman and he wore his uniform and they had their photo taken as if they were a couple. You may disagree, but I think that was not a good idea.

So here's Charlotte on the left:

And the group:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Celebraing Solstice

Barbara and I rang in the Solstice or whatever you do with it with a celebratory dinner of lobster rolls, "house-cut" fries and cole slaw. For some reason, it was especially good tonight and neither of us left a crumb.

So here's to a great summer.

On Friday, I'm going to my 50th high school reunion... I should have a few good stories from that.

Monday, June 19, 2017

History Lesson

Ate something that disagreed with me and was up for about two hours last night with multi-trips to the bathroom. Was telling Lane about it this morning and said, "At least I had a flush toilet. I always think of women who had to run to the outhouse or crouch over a chamber pot.." To which she replied, "Well what did they do for toilet paper?"

Silence and we both thought about that one...

An hour or so later, I received my history lesson from Lane...

Your misadventure did prompt me to research some of the history of toilet paper…

The greeks used pieces of stone and clay.

The Romans apparently used a sponge at the end of a stick — which was communally used by everyone. Yippee. Kept in a bucket of heavily salted seawater when not in use.

Earliest use of paper for the task was the chinese (of course) — 1391, the Emperor of the Song dynasty ordered 2’ x 3’ sheets of paper for his toilet purposes. But apparently, the Chinese before then were already using random sheets of paper.

Queen Elizabeth I’s godson invented the flush toilet in 1596, but not toilet paper to go with it.

In Colonial times here, the item of choice was corncobs. At some point, that switched to old magazines and newspapers. Apparently, the reason the Farmer’s Almanac had a hole in the upper left corner was so it could be hung in the outhouse after reading it, for “other uses.”

It wasn’t until 1857 that Joseph Gayety invented commercial toilet paper. “Gayety’s medicated paper" was available until the late 1920s, with his name watermarked on the sheets.

Imagine last night with clay, stones, or corn cobs. Makes the current set-up seem so civilized and comfy, doesn’t it?

Okay, school’s out for the day. Hope you feel better.

I have fully recovered thanks to a flush toilet and soft toilet paper.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mary's Hydrangeas

She's enjoying her new blooms this here. Here it's a rainy windy day -- really stormy.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Catching up with Price Increases

One area where I have not updated my mental image of what things cost is greeting cards. With the stupid and outrageous prices of greeting cards, I've taken to wrting notecards instead. But my niece is graduating from high school next week and today I asked Marilyn to buy a graduation card. I totally trust Marilyn with prices -- and, in fact, she has quite a knack for finding bargains for me -- but not with this card.

When she came back from errands, I looked at the card, which I really like, and it is something I'd pick out myself... It's a nice card, a big card, but it's not a musical card or something that has some amazing graphic or anything... When I flipped it over to look at the price, just out of curiosity, this darn card cost $5.79. Ridiculous. I said so to Marilyn, NOT in a blaming way to her but more of a I don't believe this, shaking my head way. She said that the price is in the mid-range -- there were cards more expensive than this one.

Anyway, I also had her buy a gift card for my niece and I told Marilyn that I have officially surrendered to gift cards... years ago, you'd give a high school grad a piece of jewelry or a fountain pen or something sentimental and permanent, but not these days. Oh well, it's easier to do the gift card.

Happy Birthday, Gwenyth

who is all of six years old today!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Computer Madnesss

Just now, out of the blue, my computer started making this large buzzing sound, the screen froze and I got the almost-blue screen of death. This one has a frowny face and says "Your computer has encountered a problem" -- it then goes to a screen that says something like 'we're checking; don't turn off your computer."

It is so darn hard to sit there and not try to turn off the computer, press ESC or do anything. The same "we're checking" screen was on for about five minutes... then it started doing updates, then it started again with updates and I was literally sitting on my hands so I wouldn't try to speed up the process. I was able to just sit there while it slowly worked its way through whatever it was. Then I had the slowest restart ever... but man, there is no better sight than how your screen is supposed to look when all is well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Getting harder and harder to keep up

Here's what I learned today: the meaning of breadcrumbing

I asked a friend if he knew what it meant and he thought for a few seconds and then quietly answered: Not getting lost in the woods?

So I received a spam email about how to deal with breadcrumbing... (a vacuum cleaner?) but here's what it is:

If you’re active in social media circles and in the online dating game, you’ve probably ran into issues with breadcrumbing—the act of sending flirtatious, but non-committal messages (breadcrumbs) that end with you never meeting the person in real life. This new social media and online dating trend is both annoying and frustrating for the person being breadcrumbed. Think of it as the new ghosting.

I had heard of ghosting because I watch MTV's "Catfish" --ghosting is when the person simply disappears with no explanation.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Don't cough...

I was activating a new ATM card just now and it was all automated and easy and just as I was finished I made the mistake of coughing -- just once. That activated the auto-voice to go nuts with options ("I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you said...") and I would have hung up, but I wasn't sure if my card was actually activated or if there were one final step... so that eventually led me to being connected to a live person where I had to go through all the security questions only to be told that yes, my card had been activated.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Don't tell Milo...

Mary is at her sister's house and says that Buddy has temporarily replaced Milo as a CNN-watching companion.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Happy Birthday to Clark and Louisa

Today was my niece and nephew's 16th birthday and I had a long talk with Louisa. I told her that I think these are the most difficult years of your life as you're becoming your own person but you still live under your parents' rule. I think it's a tough time to be a kid. She also told me her arguments with Trump-supporters at school and how she gets into verbal battles with them and how they have no arguments back other than telling her she has no sense of humor.

Meanwhile I asked my sister if she has memories of today 16 years ago and she remembers having to stop to use the toilet on the way to the hospital, but both kids arrived at 12:35 pm (afternoon). Louisa also told me she grew up thinking of Obama as a "second father" so you can imagine her (and our) disappointment.

The sense of humor accusation came when kids were talking about racist and homophobic memes they thought were funny -- "come on, this is funny" and she doesn't think so... these memes are from an app call iFunny and I strongly supported her on that. It makes me sad that kids still think that crap is funny.

I told her this story about her grandmother and grandfather (my parents) from when I was in college. My father was being fitted for new business suits and the tailor was really gay and was measuring him and commented favorably about the muscles in my father's legs in a flirty way and my mother, who was standing there, thought it was sweet and funny and was teasing him about it and I remember my father just shaking his head and smiling... and that's how you grow up not thinking that kind of stuff is funny.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Feeling Powerless

Today Ana presented me with a problem she needed help with. She sent a package to someone in Spain but it was misdirected to Mexico and she couldn't get any farther than that. Luckily she had insured it for $200 and had all the paperwork.

She went in person to the post office several times, was told she'd have to talk to a supervisor, but each time was told the supervisor was "busy." She said to me in a way I understood to mean that she was disrespected because she doesn't speak English well -- which I am sure is true.

So I attempted to solve it... called all the 800-numbers I could find with the most annoying phone trees... I could get as far as inputting the tracking # only to be told automatically that the package had cleared customs in Mexico on a certain time and date... followed by "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I tried every trick I knew to get a live person to no avail. Finally I was lucky enough to find an actual non-800 number for the local post office where she had mailed the package. In the meantime I tried to "file a claim" on line only to be prompted to enter my username and password. I let the phone ring at East 85th St post office for about five minutes -- really - I wasn't giving up.

I got a woman who basically told me there was nothing she could do. She said that the package must have been coded wrong leaving East 85th St facility and she tracked it along the way, all the way to Mexico customs, where the tracking ended.

She told me "my friend" should come to the post office in person and I said that had already happened a few times and how she had been told the supervisor was busy and how my friend felt as if she wasn't take seriously because she didn't speak English well. I said this all matter of factly.


I was then told in no uncertain terms that they are under no obligation to have a Spanish-speaking clerk at any window and that "your friend really should speak English."

It infuriated me. And what's funny is that I really don't feel that strongly about bi-lingualism... maybe because it never affected me. Beside the horrid attitude about how Ana "really should" speak English, the bottom line is that no one cares about this package. The woman kept trying to get me to go to the website, call another number, etc.

So now Ana has given up on finding the package and will file a claim and maybe when they have to pay they'll look into it more. Luckily she has all the paperwork.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Milo Kicks off Summer...

... with his favorite food...

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mary Resists

Mary took part in the Rally for Truth today in DC and I emailed her that I heard the people were spelling out "Investigate Trump" with their bodies, and she responded:

Yes, they did. There were too many people for the letters so I ended up with the crowd forming a circle around the whole thing.  I should be in the middle, a couple rows back, with a straw hat and a blue tee shirt.

So I haven't seen that photo yet, but it would be quite cool to be able to pick her out.


She posted this to her Facebook:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fun Lunch

Mary and Barb came over for lunch today. Mary was in town to go see Bette Middler in Hello Dolly (with Barb) and they didn't have enough superlatives to describe the show. I saw it years ago -- I think during college -- and Carol Channing played Dolly.

So they stopped at Tal Bagels... and we all had absolutely delicious bagel sandwiches. We all commented on how wonderful truly fresh food is... from the bagels to the meat and lettuce... all good. And we had hamantaschen for dessert. Here's what Bon Apetit says about them:

Jewish pastries are often dry. They are often stale. And they often involve poppy seeds for no discernible reason. And yet, despite often suffering from all of these afflictions simultaneously, hamantaschen retain some charm, because they are fun to fold and are meant to resemble little hats. Who doesn't love little hats?

Then they stuck around to watch Trump in the Rose Garden which I thought might be fun to watch with two friends, but it wasn't. We were all just pissed off. So Mary took the train home, has now arrived safely, with bagels in tow for Fran... and Milo was happy to see her.

Monday, May 29, 2017

One Military Relative

This Memorial Day seems more solemn than others have to me. Many people are naming specific relatives who died in military service. This is something I put together for another reason but thought I'd share the story of my great Uncle John:

My maternal grandmother’s sister, Dorothea, was a widow by the time I met her. Her husband, John, served in World War I and was mustard-gassed. When he came home from the war, he worked as a plumber, but the effects of the mustard gas eventually killed him in the 1930s. 

When I knew Aunt Dorothea, she lived in La Porte, Indiana, and she was one independent woman. She had worked her way up to a supervisor at the telephone company, which was one of the few places that would hire and promote women. She also owned her own home which is quite an accomplishment for a single woman in the 1950s. I remember her as smoking Lucky Strikes, just a funny, vibrant, outspoken woman. She introduced me to tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread. 

When we would visit, there were no toys and I would amuse myself by sitting on her enclosed sun porch in the front of her house, in one of those green wicker chairs looking through her stacks of Readers Digests. I never read the articles, just the little bits of jokes and anecdotes.

But back to her husband John.   
She had a framed photo on this little table outside the bathroom door, on a crocheted doily, of her sitting on a swing and Uncle John pushing her. I was fascinated by that photo. I got up my courage once and asked her why she didn’t get married again, and she just laughed as if that were a really stupid question and told me she already had the best husband she could have had and didn’t want or need another.

Ezra growing up fast

Barb says:

He is finally walking and all of a sudden he looks like such a big boy...

Garden on a gloomy Monday

It's only in the 50s, raining on and off, but here's my garden...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Now I have a beautiful garden

Guilermo was due at noon today to garden. He called to say he was on his way and arrived around 11 which was fine with me. He brought a helper. They did a beautiful job, and I couldn't be happier. Really. I was thinking how great it is to have someone show up, do what they're supposed to do in a way that pleases me. He even took all the empty containers/garbage with him. He even brought his own broom and swept. I'll post photos tomorrow.

Friday, May 26, 2017

News Flash: My sister and I are related!

I had given my sister and her husband DNA kits from for Christmas and they just now got the results. On my sister's, it told her that she was related to me (since I'm in their DNA datapool). I didn't have any doubt, of course, but it's fascinating to me that science can determine that.

Meanwhile her husband was adopted and he didn't have any surprises either...but it's interesting to know from whence you sprang.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q&A on Words

Barbara has her PhD in linguistics so when a word question comes up, such as today, I ask her.

My question:

in regard to the montana incident, I saw a tweet that said something like "he really wailed on that guy" and I thought no, it's WALED and no definitions meaning "beat up" or "walloped" appeared for either spelling... then I checked WHALED and that wasn't it either.
do you know which one it is?

Her answer:

In my trusty Webster's 2nd, "whale" can mean to thrash, and it gives "wale" as another spelling -- maybe because when you lash someone with a whip, you make stripes on them that look like wide wale corduroy.  To me, saying "he really whaled/waled on that guy"  can also be just extremely screaming at someone, doesn't have to be physical.   I think it might be cognate with welt, too.

"Buffalo Babies"

That was the subject line of the first email I opened this morning... scanned the list and I picked that one. We all have different commutes to work. Marilyn came this morning (late) because she was stuck on the subway for an hour not moving... due to a fight where the police were called... luckily she had a seat -- others were standing and we were able to communicate so I knew of the delay.

But on the brighter side of commuting... this is from a friend in Denver who wrote me:

Every morning on my way to work I take a little detour through a small mountain park we have near the house. I call it my "serenity drive" and I've been doing it every morning for years - as it kind of clears my head before diving into the craziness of the day.

This morning, the buffalo herd was down from their winter pasture, and they had a raft of new babies. They were so cute and peaceful - and thought you might enjoy seeing them too.