Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Feelin' Fancy

The other day I had some work in a posh part of town. Wanting to fit in, I wore a casual tan linen skirt, a navy polo shirt, and my real-looking fake diamond studs. The job took about a half hour, and when I was finished I didn't feel like going straight home.  Instead, I decided to head to the closest mall.

This mall is small, but very posh. It's anchored by the area's only Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus stores. My original plan was to get some steps in by walking the common areas, but somewhere during the first lap I veered into the Talbots store, seduced by the clearance racks visible from the front door.  Besides, the store has two entrances so by going in one and out the other I was still technically continuing my lap.

After that I decided to stop in every clothes store that struck my fancy, including the two anchor stores. When the associates wanted to know if I needed any assistance, I cobbled together a story (which was almost true)  that I was looking for white shorts or capris for an upcoming casual event with some Very Important People.  For the most part I didn't find anything that struck my fancy and I was able to keep going.  However, in Neiman Marcus the associate showed me some Eileen Fisher shorts and capris and I decided to try them on.

That's one fancy dressing room!
She walked me to the fitting room, unlocked the door, and indicated I should go inside.  Holy cow! The room was the largest I had ever seen.  Two walls were covered in mirrors, the better to see both back and front of what you were thinking about buying. In addition to plenty of room to try things on there was a chair and a small couch. The associate hung my items up on a rack and left, saying she would be right outside if I needed her.

I tried on and quickly discarded the capris, but fell in love with the shorts They were made with thick but smooth linen, relaxed legs, and an elasticized back.  And "only" $188.  Not even remotely within my budget. Sadly, I hung them back up and left everything in the dressing room. On the way out of the department I thanked the associate, who gave me suggestions for several other stores I might try. I did go in a couple of them, and even tried on a few things, but after those perfect shorts everything else was disappointing.

When I left the mall I drove to a nearby upscale charity thrift shop, where I found a white golf skirt for $5. The stretchy cotton material was a far cry from the soft linen, but the price was right. I could get it and have enough to buy dinner that night.

Five years ago today: Bowls Of Morning Goodness

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Undesirable Expounding

They're at it again. The spammers and their comments, that is.

I let anyone comment on my blog, but remarks on posts older than 21 days are moderated. That means I get to approve them before they see the light of day. If someone I don't know leaves a comment I visit their blog to see what's on the other end. I've 'met' some of the nicest folks that way, and I end up adding their blog to my RSS reader. However, sometimes the link leads straight to a Google+ page with no real content, in which case I'm not interested. And sometimes the comment comes from someone who just writes nonsense; those go straight into the trash can.

For several weeks the spam comments have been attaching themselves to the same three or four very old articles on my blog, and I ended up closing those posts to additional comments. I hope that doesn't deter someone who is truly interested in what I have to say.

The newest tactic is for a spammer to post the same comment on several of my posts at the same time. The subject matter is usually completely off topic, and often off color. When I find them guess where those comments go?

Five years ago today: Sweet Feet

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Motor Driven Two-Wheeler

Last week I got an email from the store where I bought my bike that told me about their electric bike promotion. The message said that if I came in and took a test ride I would get a scratch-off card prize. The idea of an electric bike fascinated me, so today I stopped in to see what they were all about.

After asking me where I rode and what type of riding I did the associate gave me all sorts of stats and specs about the electric bikes, most of which went in one ear and out of the other. However, I did learn that:
  • There are electric bikes designed for commuters, trail riders and dirt bike riders.
  • The bikes in the store were regular bicycles that included pedal-assist, which meant that when you need assistance a small motor engages and gives you a boost.
  • Most bikes offer three levels of assistance. Their battery range is 20-60 miles, depending on the power mode and terrain. Not surprisingly, the more you pedal the farther you can go (because pedaling conserves the battery).
  • Recharging the bike is easy and takes three to five hours. You just take the battery off the bike and plug it into a standard wall outlet.
After I chose a bike to test the associate lowered the seat to the correct height and gave me a loaner helmet.  Before I left the store she gave me a suggested route (behind the strip mall) where I could test out the bike's speed. Then it was time to ride!

Once I was outside I turned on the battery and started peddling. The battery and motor made the bike significantly heavier than the one I already have, but it was still easy to maneuver. In my short ride the bike was very comfortable, with a nice wide seat and upright handlebars that had me sitting up straight.  I stayed in Eco, the lowest level of assistance. The electric motor made a light humming sound as I rode. I could feel the motor helping me along, and could go much faster than I usually do. When I looked down at the speedometer it told me I was going 16 miles per hour!

I went to the end of the strip mall, then turned around and came back the same way. The whole thing took less than five minutes and I was a little disappointed I couldn't ride for a longer time. After I turned in my helmet I got to pick my prize from a stack of cards in a small box box. I scratched off the center section and learned that I have $20 credit to spend in the store, which will be good for a small accessory.

As you might expect, electric bikes cost substantially more than conventional ones. I would have to save my pennies for a long time to be able to afford one. It sure was fun, though.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Into Time

My random Internet searching tonight led me to the website Into Time. The site is the creation of Rafaƫl Rozendaal, a visual artist "who uses the internet as his canvas". Wikipedia says that Rozendaal also founded BYOB, an open source exhibition concept, and is is one of the first artists to sell websites as art objects.

The simple Into Time site only has one page, a screen that changes color every few seconds. Every time you click on the screen it cuts the section in half and each of the rectangles begins its own color changing. After a while the screen is a riot of shifting colors.

Five years ago today: Butter Me Up

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day 2018

Earlier in the week, I was at the drug store trying to find the perfect Father's Day card for Hubby Tony. It seems like every year they expand the definition of what a "father" is, but it still surprised me to find cards from the family pet.

Looking closer, I saw a nice selection of greetings 'from the dog', but the slot that held the one cat card was empty.  I thought that was a funny metaphor for a cat's behavior and decided to turn it into my own greeting. I took a photo of the display, then walked over to the photo department and uploaded my file into their system. It took me more time to scroll through their selection of borders and choose one then it did for the photo to print.

Five minutes and fifty three cents later I was on my way home.  I designed the front cover with enough room to glue the photo in the center, added an appropriate inside message, and printed both on card stock.  The last step was to use double-sided tape to stick the photo on.

Five years ago today: It's Hard To See In The Rain

Friday, June 15, 2018

One Of The Mysteries Of The Universe....

Is why I sometimes can't sleep. Like last night. I woke up at 4 a.m., went to the bathroom, got back in bed, and laid there. Rolled over from my right side to my back to my left side and back again.  Nothing was bothering me and I didn't have anything on my mind, so there was no reason for me to be awake. Eventually I turned on the radio for something to listen to.

Our local NPR station broadcasts a BBC stream overnight, and the soothing voices often lull me back to dreamland. This time it didn't work, but I learned that 40 years ago tomorrow (June 16, 1978) the film version of Grease was released in theaters. According to Wikipedia, the movie is the fourth highest-grossing live action musical. In case you've been living under a rock for the past 40 years here's an example of why the film deserves that recognition:

Five years ago today: Mums The Word

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

As Good As New

On Sunday I put a load of wet clothes in the dryer and turned the timer knob. Instead of clicking into place the knob just spun around loosely. The first dryer cycle was about ten minutes long. I tried again, and this time it worked for three minutes before the buzzer went off. The third time the dryer wouldn't even start.

I was frustrated, but since it's summer hot outside at least I had an option.

Our subdivision indentures don't allow for a clothes line, so I carried all the wet clothes outside and draped them over the deck rails and furniture. It only took an hour for even the heaviest items to be completely dry.

Lovely, isn't is?
We've used the same appliance repairman for decades, the dad of one of Son Donald's friends, but the last time he came out he told me he was getting ready to retire. However, on Monday morning when I searched through Angie's List for a replacement company his name was the fourth hit down on the first page. I called, and he told me that he had decided to hire a technician to do the actual work.

The earliest he could get here was today, and he offered me a slot from 10 am-2 pm. I accepted. Today I was finished with my errands and back home shortly before 10. While I waited I did some computer work and kitchen projects. I lost track of time until the cats reminded me it was almost time for their afternoon meal (which happens about 2). I called the technician to find out what was going on. He told me his paperwork said my slot was from noon-4:00. I was irritated, but I decided to make the best of it and continued on with my day.

At quarter after three I got a call the technician was on his way, and he showed up a half hour later. It took him less than a minute to figure out that the issue was a cracked knob. He told me he could sell me a new knob, but they cost $50 and then he'd also have to charge me for a service call. Instead, the technician swapped the broken knob with the one from the signal shaft, took a pen and scribbled over my paperwork, shook my hand, and left.

Five years ago today: A-Peeling

Monday, June 11, 2018


I find it hard to believe, but Son Donald will be turning 30 this week. When each of his brothers reached that age I memorialized them with a "through the years" photo album on Facebook, and will do the same thing this time, too. I've had a great time going through all of the boxes of snapshots to pick out just the right ones. Once I decided on the photos, it was time to scan them into the computer.

Our all-in-one printer/copier/scanner is downstairs in the office. My computer, where the files would end up, is in the kitchen. Several months ago the flatbed scanner decided it wouldn't start from the button on the machine, but it will run from the control center software on the computer. Now scanning is a multi-step process of walking downstairs to put the item on the scanner, upstairs to start the process, then back down to retrieve it. Normally I'm only scanning one or two items at a time and I just consider it part of my day's exercise. Tonight was not normal.

Curious to know just how many flights of stairs I'd be climbing, I took a before screen shot of my exercise stats for the day. Thanks to a couple hours of yard work and then some house cleaning they were looking pretty good:

Then the scanning started. I tried to do a couple of photos each time, but they often became crooked when I put the lid of the scanner down and then I'd have to redo them (which led to even more trips). When the job was done I saw that I had gotten almost 1,000 more steps and 16 extra flights of stairs:

Thank goodness my creaky knee was behaving itself today!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Fresh Facing

Our house was built in the mid-1980s. Except for a partial brick veneer on the front it's covered in Masonite siding. About eight years ago I noticed some of the siding boards were swelling on the edges. I did some research and figured out we weren't the only ones who had a problem. There had been a class action lawsuit against the siding manufacturing company, and in 1996 the courts had approved a $150 million settlement fund. However, when we looked into getting reimbursed for our house repair we found out the settlement money was pretty much gone.

We found a company to replace the damaged boards. They did a great job and when the new siding was painted you could barely tell the repair had been made. Every couple of years when we see more damaged boards we have the company come out and take care of it for us. 2018 is one of those years.

Several weeks ago a company representative came out, walked around the house, and gave us an estimate. We accepted the bid, made a deposit, and waited. Eventually I received a call that the crew would arrive early on a Wednesday morning, and be done three days later.

The 'crew' ended up being one hardworking man named Alex. Alex didn't say much, but when he did he spoke with a heavy Slavic accent. After introducing himself Alex got to work. At the end of the day all of the damaged siding boards were removed. Rain was forecast for the next day, so the work continued almost til sunset.

Back of garage and second story above kitchen

Overnight the rain came as predicted. And not just light showers. It came down hard all day Thursday and Friday. I checked with the company about the exposed walls. They told me it wasn't an issue, and they would be back when the ground had dried out enough to set up the ladders. That was on the next Tuesday. Once again Alex worked by himself, and at the end of the day had most of the new siding put up.

Almost done, and looking good
The next day was all about painting. Alex taped plastic sheeting over the doors and windows, then used a sprayer to apply a coat of paint. He cleaned up his things and left.

Job completed
Five years ago today: C. O. L.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Too Soon

Last Friday started out normally, but mid-morning I received a call telling me my 29-year-old niece had passed away. Suddenly everything changed. The errands I had planned to do were no longer important. There were phone calls to make, a schedule to clear, spare bedrooms to make up for company, a house to toddler-proof, and extra food to buy and prepare. It was nice to be busy, though, because that meant I didn't have to think about the horrific situation. I only had to focus about the task at hand. In between jobs I read the tributes that were being written about my niece on Facebook.

On Tuesday both Hubby Tony and I made a trip to the airport. Son Brian and Grandson Jay arrived mid afternoon (DIL Nicole was in the middle of a serious prior commitment and couldn't come). Son Tony and fiancee Ie got in after dinner. Wednesday, the day of the viewing, Son Donald came in from school. It was good to hang out with everyone, and a couple of times I almost forgot what had brought us all together. All too soon, though, it was time to get ready to drive to the funeral parlor.

The viewing was traumatic. My sister in law and the young lady's siblings looked shell shocked. There were a couple of pleasant moments, though. I got to see my six month old great-nephew and talk with several people I hadn't seen in a long time. Somehow we all made it though the night and headed home. Donald headed back to school because he had a morning class to prepare for.

This morning everyone else got up and ate breakfast. Jay had a large group of adults to play with while his dad got their things packed up. When it was time for them to I drove them to the airport. Later in the day Tony and I made another trip to the airport. We stopped for dinner on the way home, then I started the process of getting everything back to normal. My heart isn't in it, though. At the rate I'm moving it will take me much longer to undo the work than it did to do it.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Interesting New Dog Breeds

Have you heard about the newest dog breeds?
  • They crossed a Collie and a Lhasa Apso and got a Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport.
  • They crossed a Spitz and a Chow-Chow and got a Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot.
  • They crossed a Pekingese and a Lhasa Apso and got a Peekasso, an abstract dog.
  • They crossed a Labrador Retriever and a Curly Coated Retriever and got a Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of laboratory researchers.
  • They crossed a Pointer and a Setter and got a Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet.
  • They crossed a Irish Water Spaniel and a English Springer Spaniel and got an Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean.
  • They crossed a Newfoundland and a Basset Hound and got a Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors
  • They crossed a Bloodhound and a Labrador and got a Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly.
  • They crossed a Malamute and a Pointer and got a Moot Point, owned by….oh, well, it doesn’t really matter.
  • They crossed a Collie and a Malamute and got a Commute, a dog that travels to work.
  • They crossed a Deerhound and a Terrier and got a Derriere, a dog that’s true to the end.
  • They crossed a Bull Terrier and a ShihTzu and got an....uhh.....I’ll get back to you on that…
Five years ago today: Any Reason Will Do...