Saturday, May 31, 2008

Repetition is the key ...

We taught one of our dogs to sing, on command. Whenever he heard a siren, he would throw back his head and howl. By repeating his name and the word "sing" while he was doing it, we eventually had a dog who would throw back his head and sing on command. Kids loved seeing him do it.

Most of our dogs were taught to relieve themselves on command using the same method. While they were *going,* we would say "Lobo, hurry up" or "Ranger, hurry up" during the process. After a while, they got the urge to go when they heard the phrase. It was a convenience to take them outside and use the command just before we went to bed ourselves. Or in the rain, it was especially useful for a quick out-and-back-inside.

One would not think this would work on cats. It does, after a fashion. BigEd tells Mew, "time to go to bed." She will run to the room where her sandbox is, use it, and then demand to be let out of the room. Thereupon, the used sandbox would be cleaned. I am not sure who trained whom, however.

Clean sandbox goood ... for everybody.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fool with me, willya ...

One of our little, homey group telephoned CVS and used the automated system to try to refill a prescription. The automated system did not offer a selection that allowed the time for pickup to be nailed down.

I called the pharmacy itself in order to speak to a warm, living soul. The system put me on hold, hold, hold, hold. You get the idea.

So we called the same CVS number from a cell phone while I waited on the land line. (Two incoming calls on hold-hold-hold should dictate that customer service kicks in.) A warm, living body picked up my land line call and asked me again to hold, hold, hold. Then I was disconnected. Lather, rinse, repeat, I called again.

Finally, a second, warm, living person told me that, per the insurance company, it was too soon to refill the order. 'Scuse me? We had only five days left of medication and I told the warm, living ear about that.

"Try again on Monday" was the warm, living suggestion. After saying that I would check with the insurance company, we hung up gently, gently.

Wouldn't you know? Just know? The insurance company assured me that the medication claim had already been paid, this afternoon.

When I called the pharmacy back, a sorrowful, third, warm, living voice assured me that the medication was ready for pickup in five minutes.
Customer service is a chink in their armor and I know where it lives.

They knew not with whom they dealt. This was nothing compared to trying to get the Controller's Office to free up a requisition which had been swallowed up by their purchasing system. Or soothing a member of the entitled public who refused to listen to "no" in its various polite forms.

I R A pro ... retired.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Safety second ...

I am the relative of someone who was the unhappy victim of a concussive (I made up that adjective out of an existing noun. However, I looked it up and it is a legitimate word, so I can't take credit for it.) bike accident. This relative now wears a bike helmet while pedaling around. So, do I have to wear one? On a stationary bike?

How far would you think I might have to pedal before a helmet becomes a necessary accessory? I could fall while climbing off (or on) clumsily.

And I can do clumsy really well ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fare thee ...

We don't discard things lightly. The conversion van shown below has been a member of our family since 1993. Several things contributed to its enforced retirement including faltering air conditioning, the front wheels becoming impossible to align properly without major work, and an eccentric electrical system which began to eat batteries. Still, we held onto it until replacement parts became impossible to find.

We considered it from most angles and it begged to be retired. We did nothing. It had not aged enough in its infirm state to be considered finally disposable.

Until fate intervened and someone offered to pay cash for it and take it away. We mulled it over for about 30 seconds. In its current incarnation, it was being used just for storage which is an all time low for a formerly active vehicle.

We said goodbye this morning. We are not the only ones who will miss it.

An iguana named Herb was living under it. He vacated at top speed ...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

From a former life ...

Since I have been blogging, my email can pile up for a couple of days if I am not careful to check it. I don't know if doing this satisfies some need to *exhibit* (As Mr. Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice) or if it takes up part of the mental allotment of time for keeping in touch.

There was one email that caught my attention right away. It was from FIU. It informed me that my doctor's office had called and left a message that an appointment date had been changed due the absence of the gentleman I had an appointment to see.

Wha'? I retired from FIU six years ago. And the message had been left there on the voice mail of someone I have never met. Wasn't it nice that I was tracked down? The place where I used to live my weekday life is pretty efficient. But, they were dubbed by me, back then, as the dream team.

I guess they still are ...

Monday, May 26, 2008

And Memorial Monday ...

Memorial Day still feels a little dislocated to be falling on the last Monday of May. It used to always fall on a Sunday. You may have seen on the news how members of the armed services place flags on the graves at Arlington.

Each flagstaff was pushed into the ground at exactly the length of the honoring serviceman's foot measured from the headstone of the fallen soldier. I had not noticed that detail before. Doing so ensured that all of the flags placed by any one person were always in a straight line down the row.

After placing each flag, the serviceman stepped back and gravely saluted the fallen comrade. It was a moving ceremony,
precisely and quietly carried out. Each gravesite received that solemn tribute.

It made me proud to think that those honored dead with no living contemporaries should also be so remembered.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Heart Sunday

Memorial Sunday

Willie grew while I was away.
Several shoe sizes, shirt sizes,
Heart sizes.

When I realized who this
Stalwart individual was,
Who shook my hand and asked,
How are you?

Willie, I cried as he turned away.
He came, hugged my rueful heart,
And smiled.

Pastor Darlington? No, Mister,
Teacher, Engineer, Father,
Held the place this Sunday
Of the man, with a new tooth,

And re-growing hair, with short term
Memory returning slowly.
Recovering from an aneurism,
As he said, one tooth at a time.

Fondly watched and monitored
From the pews.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mad dogs and Englishmen ...

I had to make a run to the post office and, on the way home, the car got sprinkled with a light rain. Not enough to rinse it off but just enough to turn the ash that had drifted down into a muddy smear.

When I got home (after crawling my way through the two-lane traffic on SW 107 Avenue while it is being repaved) I parked near a
crunchy patch of grass. Those are easy to find, currently. I turned the hose onto the ashy car and rinsed. A lot. Then out of pity, I sprayed the little Hydrangea and J's infant sized Crape Myrtle. In the process, I acquired all the Vitamin D that is needed for a week's health.

I would not have done it at 1:30 p.m. if I had read the digital thermometer first. It was 99.5° in the shade. The car was not in the shade.

It would have been better to wait until next winter, actually ...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Early what?

The house is quiet with only the soft rain falling this morning. It kindly waited until the newspapers were brought in and started immediately after. There was little thunder with it and that was soft and rolling in the distance. Lets hope the 'Glades got more vigorously falling water and ours was the edge of the storm.

This quiet time seems necessary. I have discovered that I am an earlier bird than I thought. Not too early though. And not if there are errands in view. Then, perversely, I want to sleep 'til noon.

Only the rush of air from the AC keeps me company.

Sshhh ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two for one ...

I experienced an act of nature while feeding Zeta's and M's cats. It vaguely involved a double murder, of sorts. There is a big picture window in the kitchen at their house. I was sitting at the table in front of it and looking out while drinking from the travel mug of Starbucks I had brought along.

A movement caught my attention. When I determined it was not a floater in my eye, I focused on a housefly which had come inside with me. it was bumping the window glass in an effort to go back outside. I sat watching and thinking how they are always on the wrong side of the window: either always wanting out or always wanting in. This one had definitely decided out was better.

From the top of the window another character entered. It was one of those little jumping spiders we have down here. Not deadly, but definitely something you do not want landing on your arm while you are drinking hot coffee. It slowly descended the window glass, moving toward the angry fly. It did not come down a web but walked toward its intended prey in short bursts of steps, pausing between. It was more than an inch away when it let go of the glass and fell on the fly. The buzzing continued for a bit and then the fly was still.

I watched for a bit longer and then came to the realization that this was not my house, not my fly, and definitely not my spider. Doubling up a paper towel, I interfered with nature.

A double murder, the spider's and then mine ...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Free water needed ...

Yesterday, I actually heard the weather man say that today's weather would be: roast, burn, and sizzle. He thought he was being, ah, amusing.

The Herald promises that we will experience smoke and heat, today. Even our car is participating in the promise. There was ash all over it from the 'Glades fires, this morning, when we got back into it while on a brief outing.

Do you think being smoked and heated will extend our shelf life? Think beef jerky or pemmican.

Enough, already. We need some of that free water. No, not tears. Rain, rain, I tell you ...

Addendum: Ask and it shall be added unto you.

We had a minimal shower early this afternoon. Then about two hours later, a goodly rain. It is still dripping from the trees, well bushes, and the back patio still shows sprinkles jumping into little puddles. Hallelujah.

Take that, weatherpeople!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Insomnia? Try cheesecake ...

It feels as if we had a hypnotist in the house. Getting sleeepy, eyelids are heeaavvy. Right. I can muster up that feeling, all by myself, thanks. No hypnotist needed.

I do have to say a heartfelt thank you to Zeta and M for the gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. I feel so wealthy when I walk into that place bearing pre-loaded plastic. I wish I had remembered to send a piece of the Cheesecake Factory, Six Carb Cheesecake home with Zeta. Dang. Now I feel badly that she only had one tiny piece when the whole cake came into the house with her. And M, who had to work, has not had any of it.

Forgetful and selfish, just selfish, is all I can say. Also, more for me ...

Friday, May 16, 2008

And the month is?

The only reason I know today is not Saturday is because our local branch of the library is closed on Fridays. I did it again: lost my way amidst all the weekdays we have to negotiate. You would think there were thousands, or at least hundreds, of them. Yesterday was the 15th, I know for sure, so today must be ...

There are compensations for making one's way through the week by counting down the work days toward a weekend. I used to never mistake a Friday for a Saturday. Now? I couldn't care less.

Unless the library is closed ...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Calling, calling ...

We will accept kudos for showing such restraint, yesterday. We drove right past a Starbucks and did not stop, even though we have a card for free coffee on Wednesdays. Starbucks is also where no sugar added banana nut cake resides. Sometimes, when they are not out of it.

The card came attached to an advertisement in the Herald. We still have two more Wednesdays in this month to wield it. Free coffee is a mighty lure. Banana. Nut. Sugar free. That's not a lure, that's a siren call.

Perhaps, perhaps we should not accept kudos too soon ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Round and round ...

I can't believe that getting up at 6 a.m. is as stressful as it seems to be now. I used to do that while working at FIU. I used to work until 7:30 or 8 p.m. and think nothing of it.

Now, an early excursion with J, a short trip to the library/grocery store, and cooking/reheating a little bit of dinner did me in. One would think I was getting older.

I need to go round off my day by riding the stationary bike for a while. I have several DVDs of The Dog Whisperer that the library will eventually want returned. They are my current diversion while going nowhere, moderately fast. Previously while riding pedaling, I listened to the Accidental Tourist on CD. I had seen the movie after reading the book, liked them both, and wanted to hear someone else read it to me. Make sense?

Probably not. See you down the road ...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Such a baby ...

When I sat in a crowded waiting room recently, the surrounding ambiance was punctuated by coughs and sneezes. When called in for a brief eye test, I mentioned ambiance to the tech and wished her, "Good luck with that."

You might know. Mothers' Day. Painful throat. Malaise.
Cream of Wheat for dinner. Peroxide rinses. Bed looks really good. Think I'll stay there.

So I mostly did.

Still in bathrobe on Monday. It is such a comfort ...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The gift ...

The little Hydrangea above is trying to bloom for Mothers' Day. It was a lovely gift, from Zeta and M, some time ago and it is trying to keep on giving. It went from one floret being open to four with a fifth in process. It may not complete its cycle by Sunday, but I do appreciate the effort it is making.

Happy Mothers' Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Stock anyone?

Our 12 quart stainless stock pot started to leak at the rivets. It had come from Ebay and lasted long after any warranty had expired. It was time to replace it.

Well, the stock pot I evaluated at first was the All Clad 12 quart. But I had to face facts. I was looking for a
large, stainless steel, heavy bottomed pot to make stock in, not an instant family heirloom. Calphalon seemed a good second choice and I would not have to take out a loan on our marmalade and white cat to get one.

Bed Bath and Beyond had sent a 20% coupon to us. Even better. The salesperson at the store did not have the 12 quart size in stock. He offered to order it, use the coupon, waive shipping and send it to my house. Suuuurrrrre, I said. Order away.

It came a few days ago. I haven't used it yet. Today may be the day ...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Trial and ...

J's mother is here, visiting from Orange Park. She is a wonderfully modern person of 85 years experience. Today, we will go to lunch with her. She loves fish, so I think we will introduce her to the Rockfish Grill.

After having had a non digital SLR camera for some years, it is a come-down to have a moderately adjustable digital. It has an auto focus which allows some tweaking from the user, but the flash has a pitiable usable distance. So I turned the flash off, finally. I am discovering the light levels that the camera needs indoors, by trial and error.

Mostly error ...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Status que you oh ...

Just returned from seeing the eye specialist. The right eye is so dry, (a good thing, think interior instead of exterior) that no treatment was necessary. In three weeks, the left one will be checked again. Three weeks because the Good Dr. is going away for two weeks in June and wants to see me sooner rather than later. I am viewing a blurry world but that will go away as the paralyzed iris recovers from being sooo relaxed. So am I. I think I'm having a nap attack.

Zeta and M, I came down your street on the way home. Status quo. No visible wildlife or at least none visible to me. I could see that your PT is parked where it should be. So is A's white car. I didn't do a mail stop. ST will be there later. I hope Zorro makes an appearance. Will ST let you know?

The pictures on your blog are great. I can't wait to see more. It tickled my funny bone that M's telephone was right at hand, jus' in case. Now that's a great communicator.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Making friends ...

The Iguana on the power line looking down at the cat who was looking up and wishing he would come down and play.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Answers ...

I should have waited until Zeta and M get back before doing this question and answer session. I didn't though and will just have to add hers if she posts questions.

Coffee Bean said...

1. How long have you been reading Pioneer Woman's blog?

I found Pioneer Woman when she won the bloggie award for best writing. I had to go and see who beat dooce in that area. I agree with the choice and think she will win again next year. After I found her site, I went back to her first entry and read forward to the present. Some of the questions folks ask her let me know that they haven’t read her earlier posts. She seems to have the patience of Job.

2. What is your favorite dessert?

A friend of my mother’s used to serve us a seven layer chocolate cake that was like taking a bath in chocolate and rubbing it in your hair. It came from Tyler’s restaurant, which is not in business any more. Also, Sonny Richard’s fudge. Same effect.

3. Do you prefer cats or dogs?

There is no short answer to this question. We’ve had 2 collies (not at the same time), 2 german shepherds (a mother and son), an inherited italian greyhound mix, and a chow since we’ve been married. Plus 2 Siamese cats, a Burmese cat, rescued cats, cats that just moved in and our current little tyrant. We’ve also had tropical fish, turtles, a newt that escaped, plus a parrot and an iguana as extended family that lived down the street. If it’s living and breathing, we like it. I even brought home some ring-neck snake babies (from the university where I worked) for a terrarium, but we released them. They ate live insects.

Susan said...

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

I spent some wonderful times up in a Chinese Cherry tree reading and eating cherries. If I didn’t move around too much, the Mockingbirds and Blue Jays would join me. I read every book in the "Wizard of Oz" series up in that tree.

Later, fishing in the Keys and staying at the Coral Castle which is what we called the Goetz house.

2. Name 3 TV shows you cannot go without watching.

Martha (Stewart, sorry, but it’s true)
Masterpiece which used to be Masterpiece Theatre, on PBS.
If Midsomer Murders is ever aired again in the U.S., then drop Martha and add that one, if I am limited to three.

3. If you could vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

01 Doc and I still haven’t visited Cross Creek. We need to do that as an homage to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

ol Doc said...

1. The older you get, the more things change. What one change is the best? Which is the least liked?

It’s good that as
I get older, the more farsighted I've become. I’ve now aged into nearly 20/20 distance vision and can still read 8 point type (6 point if it is dark print and I squint) without glasses.

The bad part is that I have to have regular injections into the eyes to keep that vision. If not for the advances made through research, I would probably be unable to see to drive, by now. My retina specialist tells me tales of how it used to be. He is so happy to have the tools to make a difference.

2. If you could do it all over again, would you reconsider and actually allow me to take down that old chandelier in the house we grew up in, assuming we wouldn't have been stopped on the way out that bathroom window? :)

Instead of meeting the young lad (across the rock wall) with innocent faces and telling the tale that we used to live there, we would have been purveyers of you know what. Remember, at the Christopher Place, when I told you we should leave? Who did we see driving by? What kind of vehicle was he driving? Uh-huh. Rest my case.

3. What 3 modern conveniences could you do without and still be content.

I could do without: gramophones, teletypes, and velcro. I know that only velcro really answers the true spirit your question. Okay, in modern terms: make it plastic mollies, wallboard, and velcro.

I would really like a flat HDTV, thank you very much ... wall mounted for choice. But, not with plastic mollies or velcro, on wallboard.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ask me, just ask ...

Coffee Bean gave me this idea.

It is interesting when bloggers answer questions, candidly, that readers decide to throw at them. If you post your questions in the comments, along with your blog address if you have one, I promise to answer them in the blogpost tomorrow a few days.

Anyone can play. You don't need a blog address to ask and I will learn things about you from your questions.

This feels like a real conversation, doesn't it?