Boxed In

Every time my Dearly Beloved sees that I’m writing a blog post, he asks bluntly, “Is this one going to make me out to be a dumbass?”

Dumbassness is in the eye of the beholder on this one.  You decide.

Our cable/internet provider periodically announces big doings to improve service, blah, blah, blah.   Although hope springs eternal, we haven’t as yet found that to be the case.  In fact, the last time our Atlanta grandkids were here and their parents allowed “screen time,”  forty toes lined up across the foot of the bed in the middle bedroom because that’s the only room that has a consistent internet connection.

The company’s best option for providing us with dependable service might be to buy us a king-sized bed for that room.

During the times we’ve moved around the country, I discovered that it was simpler to  register utilities in my name instead of his.  Back then, when I’d report an outage,  the customer service people insisted that only the Mister could to that, since the account was in his name.  Pshaw!  The damn service had gone out; I wanted service, not secret nuclear codes.

Once I put the accounts in my name, reporting problems became easier.  I had only to tell them my “social” (grrrrr!) to prove my true identity.   Of course, it’s simpler now because usually, customer service is a computer.

What I’m getting around to is that I can’t send them an e-mail about a problem, the cable company sends out a lot of e-mails to me these days.  However, once DB retired, I decided that he could now be the cable communicator.  I forward the e-mails to him for handling.  Like his predecessor, he ignores them.

In the spring, he eventually read one that said we needed to order a  doohickey for any TV that didn’t already have an ugly black cable box.   We have a small TV in the kitchen that doesn’t.

DB called and ordered it and not long afterwards, they sent a cardboard box inside a large, inpenatrable envelope made of some Spanx-like material.  Although a box of that size from Amazon would have been ripped open in the entry hall, this one sat unopened  for three months.

Oh, speaking of Amazon, I usually try to keep a few of their neat, small/medium boxes on hand for mailing packages.  DB,  promptly puts them in the recycling bin.  Thus, when I made cookies to send to friends last week, there was no box available. . . until I spotted the doohickey box.  Perfect size!

By then, DB had opened the box, but hadn’t done anything with the contents, so I dumped everything onto a countertop and mailed off the cookies in the box.

Having the pieces lying there may have inspired him to speed up the process, or maybe he’d planned to do it all along, but DB moved them all to the kitchen island and set about the task of connecting, even going so far as to read the instructions.

That TV is not an easy one to reach because it’s on a shelf above the ovens.    DB spent most of the day mumbling to himself as he fiddled with it, hanging it off the shelf in various precarious positions to get to the back of it with his growing assortment of tools.   No service.

The Doohickey
                           The Doohickey

The next day, he went over his work a second time.  At some point, he came upon an instruction that read something like,  If you’ve gotten this far and it isn’t working, call us.

Hell, for my husband, is a tossup between holding and painting.  That day was pretty bad because periodically I’d hear him muttering, “I hate having to hold.”

Don’t we all, Babe.

Finally, he was told that NOW it would work, just give it time to set itself.

For the next two days, he’d go into the kitchen to check that blank grey screen “resetting” itself.  Long after all my watched pots had boiled, the screen continued to hibernate.

DB went over all the steps–except for calling them–another time.  Still nothing.

That night he advised me that he was at an age that he didn’t have to dance to the cable company’s tune, he was going to do exactly what he wanted to and figure it out himself in his own time.

His “figuring” seems to be happening in glacial time.   He hasn’t touched it since.

Dear Cable Company:  your doohickey isn’t worth a toot, according to my husband.

But I must say,  the cardboard box worked perfectly.

And Suddenly It Mushroomed!

My English friend–she of the lovely thatched roof house and cottage garden, the delightful parties, and the picturesque village, has four granddaughters who must love visiting there.  She has created a delightful fairy garden for them:  wind chimes, toadstool seats, and other delights.

When she decided that the little house tucked back among the shrubs and trees could use a new coat of paint, she brought out a can of green paint with the intent of having it blend into the landscape.

Hah!  She couldn’t do it.

She decided to go bodacious, instead.

Can you even LOOK at this place without smiling?

If I ever go to visit her, I may ask to stay here.


Up Yours

When one of the chain supermarkets here wanted to build a large store on a lot too small to accommodate it, they made it two stories so as to reduce the footprint.

The neighborhood was abuzz.

At first we heard that they planned to  put a Starbucks up there, which didn’t sound unreasonable.  It was obvious during construction that there was going to be a nice veranda up there.  We discovered that no, it would be the location for paper products, toiletries, snacks, laundry supplies, and wine shelves,  meaning that ‘most every trip, we’d have to schlep our carts up there.

Once up there, it isn’t bad.  It’s more like a mezzanine, I suppose.  The outer wall is glass and looks out to the veranda which now has umbrella tables, outdoor furniture and plants for customers to enjoy.  The inner side looks down into the colorful produce section and the deli beyond.

An elevator was mandatory.

Said elevator is upfront, in the center of the store near the floral department.  Tables of flower displays flank the doors to give customers something to distract them from watching the hydraulics through the stationery see-through elevator doors as it goes up and down.  There are transparent doors on both sides:  push your cart in, mash the button, and the doors in front of you open when you arrive, allowing carts to continue in a forward direction.  No U-turns necessary.  Got the picture?  Just like hospital elevators for stretchers.

There are stairs there, too, which sort of wrap around the elevator.  sigh.  I should have taken a photo.

One look at the call station buttons lets customers know this is one high tech elevator.  I did take a photo of that.


Firefighters and emergency personnel knew exactly what to do, but what about the customers?  They’d stand there, waiting for someone already up there to come back down to enable them to shove their carts inside as soon as the doors opened.

Where the hell was the call button to get the elevator down?

As one who once stood first in line, hoping her frozen yogurt wouldn’t melt before she figured it out, let me say in the customers’ defense:  nothing on that fancy panel looks like a pushbutton.   Eventually, an employee came over and pushed the disk under the words Buzzer Reset.

The elevator cometh.

There is a wine bar upstairs.  I felt like I could use a glass by the time I got up there.

Eventually someone added a helpful sticky tape note:

Version 2

I smile to myself now when I see that little sign now.  Perhaps the people who designed the thing should have run it by someone who was actually going to use it.

Oh, Engineers!

It’s by understanding me, and the boys, and mother, that you have helped me. I expect that is the only way one person ever really can help another.”
― Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button.
Sam Levenson

Stick ’em Up and Hand Over That Password

My Dearly Beloved and I have stopped worrying when we occasionally wander into the  mysterious haze of Senior Moment-dom these days.  We’ve spent enough time there that we’ve convinced ourselves we’ll find our way out eventually.

For instance, DB went to brush his teeth one morning this week and found that he had put his electric toothbrush in a drawer the night before and “charged” his toothpaste on the stand overnight.

He’s thinks he may try it again sometime.  Maybe it gave the toothpaste some added “oomph” to prevent cavities.

My forays down the rabbit hole usually involve either car keys or passwords.  I can’t keep track of either.  I understand the logic of having car keys, but personally, I think passwords should be optional, like sunscreen or dental floss.  Even if it’s stupid not to use them, they’re optional.   I’ll take dental floss and sunscreen any day over so many passwords.  They’re even more obnoxious than those plastic cards every Tom’s, Dick’s, and Harry’s want you to stuff in your handbag in order to receive their sale prices.

I don’t mind a few significant passwords, but why do I need a password to add a Diet Coke purchase code number to My Coke Rewards?   Two years of points and I may have enough to redeem for a Fandango ticket.  Or to browse Joss & Main?  Now I even need one to sign up for my neighborhood newsletter.

That last one has been a problem.  The neighborhood homeowners association has set up a new system which necessitates the password.  I’ve had a password for the site for some time because I have been asked to write something on it a time or two.  That password doesn’t work on the new setup. In fact, I think it’s what is keeping me from being able to sign up for the newsletter.

Wednesday evening, I set about to fix it.

Here’s the scenario:  I’m changing all the names, but pretend that the name of our neighborhood is Park Place and the website is PPHA–Park Place Homeowners Association.  When the site was originally set up, it was done so as instead of  It’s non-profit, so I’m not sure why and don’t really care.

I googled PPHA and a screen popped up asking me to sign in.  I tried what I thought was my user name and password, but they didn’t work.  The site did, however, throw me a bone:  Forget Your Password?

Heck yeah, I reckon I did, so I checked that box and it promised–and delivered– a temporary password.  Hot dang!  Now I was getting somewhere.  What had my problem had been before?  I could log in now and change it to something easy instead of the gobbledygook of numbers and letters it had provided.

So. . . I opened a new tab,  keyed in and supplied my user name and new password.  It pretended not to know me once, twice. . . eventually snubbing me three times.  What th’ heck?

I went back to the first screen to make sure I’d copied the number correctly.   Yup.  There I was, my personhood still acknowledged.

I looked more closely.  Um. . .  that password had not been sent to me by, our homeowners association.   Nope.  My temporary password had been generously provided by the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association–

They’ll probably be sending me a request to pay my dues any day now.

I wonder if Houdini charges by the hour.
I wonder if Houdini charges by the hour.  He could escape the password prison!

“User” is the word used by the computer professional when they mean “idiot.”
– Dave Barry

The Battery Isn’t The Only Thing Chirping

A couple of weeks ago, one of the batteries in our wireless alarm system chirped its death song in the early morning hours.  Don’t they always. . . ?  

Dearly Beloved yanked the battery from the offending device and went back to bed.  The next morning  he began opening drawers for batteries in a size I knew we didn’t have,  I reminded him that we have a service contract, which includes changing batteries.   He consented to call them, but added, “Okay, but I’m having them do that one only.”

So, Venus asked Mars what the heck was the reasoning behind that crazy statement.  He said, “Because I don’t want them roaming around my house.”

Sometimes it’s like living with Earl in the Pickles comic strip.  Just call me Opal.

When the repairman did come, DB met him at the door and ushered him to the chirping station.  The guy changed the battery and said, “Now, there are some more that I should go ahead and replace while I’m here.”  

“No, that’s the only one,” DB informed him.

The repairman held out a piece of equipment he was carrying and said, “This sensor says there is another weak one here in the hall. . . .”

Once again, DB jumped in with, “No, THIS is the only one in the hall.”

I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I hollered from the sunroom, “There’s one at the far end of the hall.” 

DB shook his head.  “That’s just a motion detector.”  

The service guy shrugged, “Well, it has a battery that needs replacing.”

DB turned to me and asked, “Where is it back there, anyhow?”

I explained that it was at the top of the built-in bookcase, behind the gnomes.

That, of course, gave Himself a chance to interject a smart crack about the gnomes, which he knows darned well I didn’t buy. They were part of a collection that my mother assembled over the years.  She liked them, large and small, and kept them displayed on a long table in her living room.  After she tired of dusting them over the years, she simply covered the entire table with a sheet.  It looked like a gnome morgue.

My gnome inheritance is high on a bookshelf so that I can’t see the dust.

I’ve digressed here.  Back to the repairman, who’d replaced the second battery and headed for the main panel to see what else might need his attention.  The monitor indicated the playroom battery.  Of course, DB was there at once to “enlighten” him that it was a mistake–that wasn’t labeled properly.  I yelled out, “The playroom is down the basement stairs.”

That battery now replaced, the service rep came back into the sunroom to ask me about the location of others.  DB  hurried in to tell the guy that he surely didn’t want to ask me because I’d be sending him all over the place, up the chimney, under the house, etc.  He was saying all of this with a big smile and laughter in his voice.  Nevertheless. . . .

I shook my head and told the repairman not to feel bad, that DB followed the cable people. the HVAC guy, and any other service personnel around so that he could tell them how to do their jobs, too.

The man looked at DB and said, “Oh, I remembered you as soon as I drove up. The last time I came to this house, I was sitting out in my truck getting my work order ready when you came to the front door and yelled, ‘What are you doing out there?  You can’t get anything fixed sitting in your truck!'”

He smiled at DB and said, “I got out of my truck thinking to myself, ‘What have I got here?  Is this guy for real?  I was pretty cautious even coming in until I saw you grinning.”  

They began talking about sports and DB, mouth still running, followed the guy out to his truck now that all weak batteries had been replaced.

Over the weekend he was complaining about his aging cellphone and how he needed a new one.

“You were just in the mall, buying Good Egg Son a birthday present.  Why in the world didn’t you go in the Apple Store and pick one up while you were there?”

He shuddered.  “Because it’s a mall.”

Sheesh!  I surrender.

What is it we need here?  A butler?

Does Apple make house calls?


When my English friend e-mailed that she was having her neighbors over for drinks on July 4, I asked her to send a photo.   Remembering her Burns Night Supper a couple of winters ago, I suspected that having friends over for drinks didn’t mean setting out a keg and some Solo cups under a tree.

While we celebrated our independence with cookouts and picnics, she and her husband  invited their neighbors to a garden party.  The photo upped my Anglophile feelings another notch.

Have a look:


Absolutely lovely, isn’t it.

The British are much more current on international news than we are, so they probably know more than they want to know about our absurdities, our crazy politics, etc.  Do you think they might, like the parents who pull out the champagne when the last kid finally leaves the nest, the Brits might have enjoyed a toast to our Independence?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

When you’re born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat. – George Carlin

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.
– Winston Churchill

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
– H.L. Mencken

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
James A. Baldwin

And a Fine 4th to You, Too!

My Dearly Beloved and I are sticking close to home this holiday.  Camp Granddad was open for our Georgia grandchildren during much of June and we loved every second of it.  This week we’re running Camp Granddog, as their goldendoodle, Ivy, is here to romp with our girl, Scout.  Ivy is a squirrel chaser and I had high hopes that she would tutor Scout in the finer points of tree rat elimination.  Instead, Scout seems to be having some success in showing Ivy the joys of lying on the deck and watching the damnsquirrels climb the feeder poles.


Happy Independence Day from Camper Ivy and all of us at Camp Granddog!