WORLD SHARING – Marilyn Armstrong

First, our tiny bit of news, then the rest.

One of the dogs ate Garry’s mouse. It was a Logitech mouse, not the furry kind. He or she didn’t totally destroy it … just enough so it stopped functioning.

A little bit of gnawing makes the USB go down.

I did warn him about putting his computer et al where any of our dogs can conveniently grab a small piece, but Garry never believes me until the item needs replacement. At least mouses are cheap. It could’ve been worse.

It was just the mouse,  not the computer. It’s not that our dogs are big chewers, but a dog with nothing to do? Well, that looks interesting. Let me put my jaws around it and see what happens. Since it didn’t squeak or try to run away, it got dropped for something more entertaining, but one chomp was enough.

Another has been ordered. Nothing can kill a Logitech mouse except too frequent dropping — and a dog with teeth.

And now for the rest of the story!

Questions This Week:

Did you have to help out with chores when you were growing up?  If so, what were you assigned to do?

Yes. Dishes, general house straightening — but first, foremost, and worst of all (and I hate it to this day) ironing. I really hated ironing. I only got good at it when I started collecting dolls and had to iron their tiny dresses. At least I knew what an iron is and how to use it.

Have you ever researched your family tree?   What do you know about your family’s roots? 

Slightly. I don’t have enough information to get very far.

What’s your cure for hiccups?

Holding my breath, then swallowing at the same time. It usually works.

What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it?  Either figuratively or literally?

Grammar! FEWER, not LESS as follows: If you can count’em, it’s fewer. If you have to scoop it with a shovel, it’s less. There are always fewer people, not less.

There may be fewer GRAINS of sand, but less sand overall.

Share gratitude, a positive moment or experience from 2019 so far.

Birds. I really love my backyard birds.

Otherwise, it hasn’t been a great year. Trump’s government shutdown is going to delay tax refund checks … which I was counting on to help repair the house. And meanwhile, all those miserable people wondering how they are going to make the mortgage! Horrors.

I don’t think this counts as a positive moment, experience, or something for which anyone should feel gratitude. Sorry about that.

FORGIVE ME LEST I NEVER SLEEP AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Forgive

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I don’t mean I slept restlessly. I mean I was awake the entire night. It was a variety of physical issues. As soon as I got one problem settled down, another popped up.

There are nights like this. Fortunately, not often.

Back in the day, it didn’t bother me very much unless I had a particularly difficult day at work. I’m getting too old to go a whole night without sleep. I’ve got stuff to do. Maybe I can send Garry can pick up a few things and we can defer this for one more day? Pick up a pizza for dinner?

It’s a sunny day! Not a bird was in the sky!

It started when I got to bed very late. Why? Because I was trying to read and respond to blogs — at least to the blogs for the people I consider online friends. I didn’t get to everyone, but at least I managed to get a bunch of them done. Everything else? Deleted. It’s in the Reader. Maybe I’ll find a free hour. Maybe.

My body has shifted all its daytime stuff to the middle of the night. Lots of trips to the bathroom make it hard to settle down — and that’s not the only thing. Everyone else does that stuff during the day. Me? Middle of the night which sometimes makes deep sleep treacherous. I had a reminder list rolling through my head, too. Call the Senior Center to make an appointment to get taxes done. Their times fill up quickly because it’s a free service from the AARP, something I appreciate with all my heart. I have never been any good at doing taxes, not in my entire tax-paying life.

The bright window

And then my legs cramped. I wrapped them in heating pads and after an hour or so, they stopped trying to curl up in weird knots. It’s strange to watch them when they do that. The tendons stand out and the feet curl upwards. It means I’m not drinking enough stuff with electrolytes in it.

Whenever I felt sleepy, my body did something inconvenient and occasionally, painful. My chest, which is still loose and crunches when I move, was particularly crunchy last night. My acid reflux was refluxing like mad because I’ve been trying to take fewer antacids, but my gut doesn’t agree. I think it is never going to get on that bandwagon.

Flowering Christmas Cactus

That I didn’t get into bed until well after 2 in the morning probably didn’t help. If I stay up late enough, I wake up. I am most sleepy around 2 in the afternoon. After I overcome that drowsiness, I get more and more wakeful, so by midnight when Garry is toddling off to bed, I’m ready to party. Well, you know. Not really party hearty, but my version of partying which mostly involves computers and writing and processing photographs. At least after night falls, I stop taking pictures.

So day rolled around again and it’s a beautiful one. Relatively warm with sunshine and blue skies.  The coffee is brewing. I know in an hour, I’ll be ready to crash.

Somehow, night and day have flipped around and that circadian rhythm has gone totally askew. My body thinks night is for doing stuff and except for the 2pm sleepy time, I never seem quite ready for sleep. This didn’t bother me much when I was young. I slept very little and it was okay. I could handle a day’s work on three or four hours of sleep, but as the years have advanced, I need sleep or I’m a train wreck.

At least I figure I’ll sleep tonight. In the recliner and in bed. I think I have a solid 12 hours of sleep waiting for me. I sure hope so. Time to call the Senior Center. Well, not quite yet. in another half hour. Meanwhile, coffee anyone?

THE DAY WE GAVE UP PIZZA DELIVERY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Deliver

We used to depend on pizza delivery. I mean seriously. If you can’t get the pizza delivered hot and still smelling great, what’s the point? Except out here in the boonies — and even for Uxbridge, we are in the boonies — there aren’t many places that deliver. On their advertisements, they specifically mention that they don’t deliver to “south Uxbridge” — meaning us. And the prices kept going up. Not only for the pizza but for the delivery. It was free, then it was a couple of dollars, then it went up to three or four dollars while the quality of the pizza kept going down.

The people who make pizza around here clearly never ate in the North End in Boston or better yet, Brooklyn, New York. And none of them were Italian. Their idea of a pizza was something with a really thick, doughy crust and nothing much on top. If you actually wanted toppings, that was extra. A lot extra. And no one offered anchovies.

One day, I discovered that I can fit a 12-inch pizza in my counter oven and since then, life has never been the same. Garry keeps canned anchovies in the kitchen cupboard (not much can of fish!) and there’s always extra cheese and sauce available.

We no longer required delivery. We do … sorry about this … DiGiorno.

In particular, the marinara and meatball pizza. For six bucks, we get the pizza, made exactly the way we like it and hot enough to get pizza burns on our tongues. No more $14 pizzas that are cold by the time they get here and on which there is so little cheese and sauce, it’s not worth bothering to eat. It doesn’t even smell like proper pizza.

Goodbye, Uxbridge House of Pizza! We have our own house and our own pizza.

CHRISTMAS EVE 2018 – Garry Armstrong

It was a very enjoyable Christmas Eve. A drama free (dee-lish) dinner.

Everyone enjoyed their gifts including the furry kids who hadn’t destroyed their toys as of Christmas morning.

I had a long and delightful phone chat with my family. Two younger Brothers, cousins, and cousin-in-law. I was able to hear everyone clearly (first time!) with my cochlear implant. I think I was a bit giddy because I rambled all over the place, chatting about how the cochlear implant has changed my life.

We shared memories about Christmases past. Lots of laughter as I said goodbye.

Owen brought over a bunch of old ’78’s (Those of a certain age know what I’m talking about).

We listened to vintage performances of Christmas music performed by Bing Crosby, Mahalia Jackson, Gene Autry and Red Foley. Yes, Red Foley. “White Christmas” is still a signature song of the season and it belongs to Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby.

One of the 78’s contained soundtrack music from the 1942 film, “Holiday Inn” in which Bing Crosby introduced Irving Berlin’s beloved “White Christmas.” Gene Autry’s “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” brought back a rush of childhood memories as did a rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” I found myself singing along — softly — because I sing off-key.

What a blast! Thanks, Owen.

I, too, wonder about the mince-pie mystery.

What happened to mince-pie? Marilyn and I have been searching in recent weeks for mince-pie, fresh or frozen.  No luck.  No answers.  I just read an online piece about a cache of mince pies discovered in England, stashed in a basement — from World War Two. A Mom’s gift to her Son in the army. The pies are over 70 years old. No mention of how they taste.

This still doesn’t answer our mince-pie mystery. Russian collusion?

Christmas Day is upon us. The house is quiet. The furry kids are searching for their toys. Santa Claus has been very kind to us. Yes, Donzo, there is a Santa Claus.

I suppose he forgot about you.

A SQUIRREL’S INTRIGUE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Intrigue

It’s not as complicated with this squirrel as it was with Moose and Squirrel. They had opponents, Boris and Natasha. This squirrel’s only concern is whether the birds are going to attack him if he sits down and has some brunch in the flat feeder.

I’m thinking. Where are Boris and Natasha when I need them?
I think I need an agent!

He’s been in and out of it all morning, but the little flock birds, especially the warblers, are getting a bit aggressive about a big furry guy plunked in the feeder and they dive bomb him as he munches. But Owen refilled the feeder this morning, so there’s plenty for everyone. They only seem to get possessive when the quantity drops kind of low … which take 3 days, by the way. These birds are very good eaters.

Pssst, birds. I’m hungry too!
I can smell the corn and the sunflower seeds! I’m gonna make a run for it!

He eventually made his way into the feeder where he stayed quite a while, but these were taken while he sat in the oak tree trying to make up his mind: to feed or not to feed? THAT is the question!

JUST ANOTHER MEANINGLESS XMAS ZOMBIE EVENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Xmas Zombies

So I was going to check into my bank and see if a particular payment had gone out. Instead of getting my account, it asked me how I wanted to get my access code.

Access code?

Yes, access code. Do I want as a text or a phone call? I selected a phone call.

I don’t do text. In fact, the last time (a few days ago) I tried to text. I couldn’t remember how.

Pathetic? Absolutely, but there it is. I don’t text and I don’t remember how to text and I have never felt that my failure to text disenfranchises me from citizenship. However, Bank of America seems to feel that anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone isn’t American and shouldn’t be allowed to use their own bank account. Because they called me on the phone and their calling robot told me I had to text the data back.

Did I mention that I don’t text?

I tried to enter the access code in the field and it told me it was the wrong number, probably because I had typed it on the computer and did not text it using a smartphone.

I breathed slowly. Then, I called the number they give you if you are having trouble with your access code. They said ON THE SCREEN, “When you get to the menu, ask for an agent.” Which I did.

After which the robot wanted my bank card number, my social security number, my account number, and the name of my best friend. All of which I supplied and none of which they recognized. Probably because I didn’t type the information on a smartphone.

You see, I DID have an iPhone. When I was working. And I needed one. But I’m not working now and it’s just a big expense that I use once in a blue moon when we are lost on the road to someone’s house! If they want to give me the phone and PAY for it, then I’ll have one. Until that time, stop jerking me around.

Eventually, I got a person by declaring that I had “lost everything” including my checkbook, bank card, and social security number. The human had no idea why they even wanted all this information because there was no problem with my account. She assumed BOA was helpfully making my account “less hackable.”

They’ve been hacked twice. I keep track of this stuff.

She gave me a new access number after which I tried to enter my PIN, but the field blanked out when I typed there. So she asked for my driver’s license number and I pointed out, to the best of my knowledge, they don’t have that number. She said: “Just the one you had when you signed up with the bank.”

“That was more than 10 years ago,” I pointed out. “Massachusetts has since issued entirely new cards with different numbers. Did you think that in all this time we’d still be carrying THE SAME DRIVER’S LICENSE?”

By now I’m shouting at the phone. I have lost it.

Garry finally asked me, “What’s going on?”

“NOTHING IS GOING ON,” I yelled.

Literally. Nothing was going on. The bank was helping me avoid future hackers by making it impossible for me to use our account. Which is where all our money is. And through which I pay all our bills.

The lady to whom I was speaking said she had no idea what was going on or why, but assured me she was going to escalate the issue. I said I wasn’t interested in her work problems. I wanted to be able to use my account right now, not tomorrow or the day after. How long did she think the credit card people were going to wait to get paid before I’m considered in default? Like … a minute maybe?

She reminded me that this was an attempt by BOA to improve their security.

It certainly made it impossible for ME to use the account. No idea if hackers would be daunted, but I was dying. She explained — again — that there was no problem with my account.

I said that just because I don’t use a smartphone doesn’t mean I’m not an American. As far as I know, using a smartphone is voluntary, not a legal requirement. Making it impossible to use my account without a smartphone probably IS illegal and I was getting really angry and if this wasn’t resolved right now, I was going to do something I’ve been avoiding for years.

Change banks.

It’s not that I love BOA. They are just your basic evil representative of billionaires oppressing the working class, but they are located right next to the grocery. The bank I’d rather use doesn’t have a location in Uxbridge or any other nearby town. The nearest bank is more than 20 miles away. Back to Bank of America.

So the kind lady gave me an access code.

I entered the code in the field. Then it asked for my PIN, but when I entered it, the field stayed blank. It refused to let me enter the PIN number because — are you ready? It only accepts that information if you type it on a telephone. A smartphone. ONLY a smartphone.

By now, it’s nearly an hour later and I am seething.

Eventually, their server decided my knowing my best friend’s name was enough to get me into my bank account. It stopped asking me for my PIN but did require my bank card number. It also required my birthdate. And the name of the first car I bought with my own money. And its color.

I was really glad it stopped before asking about the upholstery because I don’t remember it. It was 1977. It’s possible I intentionally forgot because I have a vague memory of it being seriously ugly. Green plaid? Something like that.

Now, I can use my account. Until the next time, when they decide to foil hackers by making me yell at a telephone robot for an hour or two.

Merry Christmas. We’ve foiled the hackers. I’m sure of it.

Songs for the seasonally challenged III… – Reblog – Sue Vincent

Songs for the seasonally challenged III…

To the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:

Related image

God rest ye merry gentlemen…

There’ll be no rest for me!

I’ve got to cook and clean and wrap

And then put up the tree…

For Christmas cheer won’t make itself

That I can guarantee…

Oh, oh, we’ll bake the ‘comfort and joy’,

Wrap up a toy,

And that ruddy Christmas song will soon annoy…

*

“A woman’s work is never done”

And Christmas time is worst!

You never get a chance to breathe

For putting others first;

You cook and roast and decorate…

They eat until they burst!

Oh, all diets one Christmas will destroy,

Can you enjoy

Knowing e-e-lastic waistbands are a ploy..?

*

God rest ye merry gentlemen…

You ate the ruddy lot!

You stripped the turkey, ate the cheese,

And cleaned out every pot!

You drank the wine and fell asleep

After that second ‘shot’…

Oh, oh, tidying up is not a joy

Never a joy…

And sometimes I wish that I had been a boy.