Monday, March 30, 2015

Tough Times...Part 1...Year VI

I had to go to Walmart the other day to pick up a few things I needed and took my cart over to the checkout lanes when I finished. Of course, all of the lines were extremely long so I just settled into line behind a little old lady that closely resembled my late Granny.

"Oh, my goodness!" she exclaimed. "I don't know how these people can get away with charging three dollars for a loaf of bread. I'm just a little old lady on a fixed income and I can't afford these prices. I stayed at home my whole life caring for my husband and my children only to be left nearly penniless by some fat cat insurance company in New York. Health Care reform, I think that's what they are calling it. A thousand dollars a month for health insurance, who would pay that? I was hoping to have an easier time in my Golden Years and now I can barely afford food for me and my handicapped son. I had to leave him out in the car because I upset him when I get to complaining about these prices. I don't mean to, but I'm doing the best I can."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said. I felt sorry for the lady, I really did. Times are tough all over. I knew exactly how that lady felt about those astronomical premiums, I've been paying them myself.

It was finally her turn to begin placing her items up on the register belt and she began talking to the cashier and pointing to me in a friendly manner. I wasn't really paying attention to what they were talking about. I had just discovered a copy of The Global Wacko News that had Tim Ruse on the cover saying that he was the reincarnation of Lon R Cupboard and was trying to convert the world into his new class of Cosmetology that would be opening new centers worldwide whenever he had another hit movie and earned enough money to do so. (Good luck with that.)

The little old lady kept gesturing and smiling at me. I didn't want to be rude so I gave a little half-smile and nodded in agreement to whatever they were so animated about. You know what I'm talking about. When somebody tells a joke and you laugh along anyway even though you don't get it.

By now, there was enough space on the belt for me to begin placing my purchases alongside the lady's items. My first item was a huge 16-roll pack of toilet paper that was on sale and it separated my things from hers. It also separated me from her as she gave another wave and headed out the door.

"That was awfully nice of you," said the cashier. "Your Great Aunt said you was going to pay for her groceries. That will be $88.32."

"Excuse me..."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mom's Birthday...Year VII

Today is my Mom's birthday. Of course, I can't tell you how old she is because that wouldn't be daughterly. She is older than me but hasn't reached that age where she goes around telling everybody how old she is.

For example: One might ask, "It sure is beautiful weather we're having."

"I'm 87," might be the response.

I'm really lucky to be her daughter. Mom always has a unique and mostly upbeat attitude about things which is very helpful during stressful times. Her calming manner has defused many a situation at home and at work. She's mostly retired now, and enjoys her dance lessons and Travel Club meetings.

She's a fun person to be around and I'm glad she's my mom.

Here's to you Mom!

Happy Birthday!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Waiting Room Conversations

I was off to another trip to the doctor. A little different this time, I visited my eye doctor, who is an ophthalmologist and a really funny guy. He is Harvard-educated (which is a good thing) and always seems to remember what you were talking about from one visit to the next.

Unlike most doctor visits these days, my eye doctor handled the entire visit from beginning to end, by himself. He called me to the back office, placed me in an examining room, dilated my eyes and then sent me back to another waiting room to let my eyes grow wide and my pupils dilate.

The whole pupil dilating thing is an amazing, if not peculiar feeling. How can two little drops of whatever make your eyes do that? It's like someone has a balloon in your eye and is trying to blow it up. That's how it feels to me anyway.

I was sitting by myself for a few minutes just enjoying the quietness of the back room waiting area. Presently, I was joined by a nice looking elderly lady who had just received the same treatment. The following is the conversation that took place:

"Hey, nice weather we're having, where you from?" asked the lady.

"Yep, the weather is nice. I'm from the next town up north." I replied.

"Me too, where do you live?" she questioned.

"I live out Main Street close to Sellers Ave,” I said. She shrugged her shoulders at me and we continued to sit in silence, each seemingly lost in our own thoughts.

"You look familiar to me," she said. "That wasn't your property that they found them marijuana plants on, was it? They said it was on Sellers St."

"Excuse me?"

"They had an article and a picture in the paper about it; you look like that lady in the paper."

"I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about," I responded.

"I think I still have last week's paper in my bag." She dug around in her bag and proceeded to fish out a copy of last week's paper that had the pot bust on the front page. "See, here it is," and she handed me the paper.

At that time, the doctor came back out to get me (I was dilated) and gestured me into another examining room. I glanced down at the paper to see if I could find the article. Sure enough, there was a story and an accompanying photo detailing the whole story. I told my doctor about what had happened; he chuckled and said that she was here to get new glasses. It seems she hadn't had a new pair in about 20 years.

I can see somewhat how she came to the conclusion that I was the busted pot grower. The marijuana was grown on East Sellers Street. I live near West Sellers Avenue on the other end of town. I don't know how she came up with the picture though; the picture was of two beefy, burly looking individuals with full beards.

When I was finished with my appointment I had to use the ladies room on the way out. I opened the door and could hear the lady telling the doctor about my alleged criminal activities. He replied that it wasn't me, it was a picture of two gruff-looking men, and that I lived on West Sellers Avenue not East Sellers Street.

"Oh dear," she said. "I guess I need new glasses after all. But, I still think she looked like that lady in the picture."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Calling Publisher's Clearinghouse...Part II

...I'm sure Publisher's Clearing House receives all sorts of weirdo and wacky phone calls and mine turned out to be no exception:

Publisher's Clearing House (PCH): "Hello, this is Ambrosia. How may I help you?"

MAFW: "Hey, I have a question about an invoice I received?"

PCH: "Okay, not a problem. Do you have the customer order number?"

MAFW: "Yes, it's 24567palm5671985."

PCH: "Could you repeat that, please? I'm showing one letter missing."

MAFW: "Uh, okay. it's 24567palme5671985."

PCH: "Okay, got it. Can you give me the last four digits of your credit card for verification?"

MAFW: "Hold on. I gotta go get it."

PCH: "That's fine, I'll wait."

MAFW: "It's 2837."

PCH: "Okay, got it. Now, could you please tell me your high school mascot for verification?"

MAFW: "Sure, it was a Green Devil."

PCH: "I'm sorry. That's not the information you entered onto your form for security purposes. Could it be something else?"

MAFW: "Hmm, not a Green Devil? Okay, try a Devilish Darling? And my shoe size is 10."

PCH: "Okay, that got it. I didn't need the shoe size, though." (No sense of humor.) "What can I help you with today?"

MAFW: "I received an invoice from you guys and I also received a bill from Vanity Fair. Am I being double-billed?"

PCH: "I'm sorry. I don't understand the question."

MAFW: "Why did you guys send me two separate bills? I thought I was supposed to pay directly to PCH and not worry about any other invoices."

PCH: "Ma'am, according to my records we only sent you one invoice and I don't know anything about the other bill?"

MAFW: "Uh, why not?"

PCH: "Why not, what?"

MAFW: "Why don't you know about the Vanity Fair bill?"

PCH: "Ma'am, Publisher's Clearing House doesn't offer that magazine."

MAFW: "Oh!"

PCH: "Anything else I can help you with? If not, thanks and I hope you win the million dollars!"

Me too, because at the rate I'm going, I'm gonna need a million bucks to pay for all of these magazines...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Calling Publisher's Clearinghouse...Part I

As many of you know, I tend to get real excited about something and then go way overboard with it. Whether it's discovering a new dish that I've eaten somewhere and then tried to replicate at home, over, and over and over again until I am completely sick of it. (The latest flavor of the month was a ham and cheddar potato casserole that I've eaten about six times in the last two weeks. Now, I don't even want to eat a potato, which for me is highly unusual.) Or, it could be reading about an event such as an upcoming 10K road race that I want to train for (Okay, maybe not), but you get the drift.

My obsession this time around is magazine subscriptions. It all started a few years ago when my niece sold subscriptions to raise money for her school. I purchased two or three like any good aunt would do and then got trapped. Yep, you know what happens when you get on some company's list: they send you solicitation after solicitation after solicitation and they won't stop. One day, I actually opened (my bad) a letter and read the offer: get two years of Vogue magazine for only $10. What a deal! I've never subscribed to it before, nor have I even looked at one, so why not try it? And that's what I did.

Well, that subscription led to more solicitations and now I have a stack of magazines approaching two feet high that I haven't even turned a page in. (I'm sure the publishers love me and I'm definitely sure the mailman doesn't. LOL)

Anyhow, everything wasn't too bad until I got my Publisher's Clearing House official entry. I'm sure I read somewhere that a purchase isn't necessary to win but I also think I read somewhere else that making a purchase (buying magazines) might definitely help. And talk about deals: 2-for-1 deals, multi-year deals, buy a product and get a lifetime subscription. Man, my eyes had glazed over before I stopped pasting those little stickers to the official entry form--I don't know which magazines I selected, but I'm sure it was 4 or 5.

A few weeks later I received an invoice from Publisher's Clearing House and Vanity Fair on the same day. The bill from Publisher's was for $75-something and the Vanity Fair was for $16-something.

Hmm. Am I being double-billed?

Of course, I didn't write down the magazines that I bought from Publisher's Clearing House and I don't remember anything about Vanity Fair but that doesn't mean that I didn't. (My memory seems to be lost somewhere in the past these days.)

The invoice had an 800-number to call for any questions and after multiple prompts for passwords, credit card info, my shoe-size and my high school mascot's name I found myself talking to a live person...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sleigh Riding On Cherry Fork Road

For my Adams County friends and family...

****Since it's the winter that won't seem to go away, enjoy this classic post about sleigh riding on Cherry Fork Road.****

One of the activities that I miss the most since I grew up and moved south is going sleigh riding. I grew up on a small farm in southern Ohio. We had two driveways, one that led up to the house of course, and the other that led up to the barn. Our house and barn were located on the top of a small hill with a gradual incline down to the road. Whether going to the left or to the right out of the driveways you immediately had to start going uphill.

When we were younger, nothing gave my siblings and me more countless hours of enjoyment than an old boring piece of plastic. The neighborhood kids would always come to our house because we lived on top of a hill. Plus, our parents were usually at work. Riding the piece of plastic down the hill was especially dangerous. There was a fence at the bottom that separated the field from the creek. But, there was a couple of bumps near the bottom of the hill that if you hit them just right you could go flying over the fence and into the creek. This amazing feat happened to me on more than one occasion and was always accompanied by shouts of “AIRBORNE” from the barnyard animals and visiting neighborhood children. Most times though, we just plowed into the fence at the bottom and hoped the barbed wire wouldn’t cut us as we disengaged ourselves from the fence. Honestly, I shredded my fair share of mittens to say the least and I do have a couple of faint scars from barbed wire puncture wounds.

As I grew older, the allure of Cherry Fork Road began to call. For Christmas that year, I had gotten a real sled, the kind on metal gliders that could be steered by hand. Oh, my goodness, it was a beauty. The directions told me to use wax and rub the blades until you could see your reflection in them. The better the blades were waxed, the faster the sled would go. That’s what the instructions said anyway. Now, all I needed was some snow.

It finally snowed enough sometime late in January to give the new sled a test run. There are several ways to ride the classic flyer sled. You can sit down on it and have others give you a push. If you are a little adventuresome, you can lie down and have others help you out by giving you a shove. But, the best way to get going is to get a running start, jump on it and then hold on for dear life. On more than one occasion, I landed with a thud as the sled darted out from under me or I ran into the ditch because I couldn’t steer it properly.

Everyone was having loads of fun with the new sled until the day we almost got run over by the snow plow. After that, no more riding on the road. We tried to ride down the hill in the field but the blades always got stuck in the high grass. One day, my friend, Tonya, who was considerably younger and smaller than me was complaining because we couldn’t ride the sled on the road any longer. Suddenly, I had an idea. I would lie down on the sled first and then my friend would get on my back facing the opposite direction to watch for cars.

It was brilliant!

Dad didn’t think so. He thought we were just being annoying. No riding the sled on the road; it was too dangerous. After huddling for a few days, we came up with a slightly better version of our original plan. We would do everything just the same, except for the time of day. We were going to go sleigh riding at night. We took the new plan to Dad who thought we were both nuts. He approved it and we made plans for the next evening.

It was a clear, crisp night. The waxing moon gave us just enough light to see where we were going. I got on the sled first and then my friend piled on top facing the opposite direction. We checked for the lights of any oncoming cars and then shoved off. The sled took off and down we went screaming and laughing the whole way. We made it halfway up the next hill and we both jumped up and ran the rest of the way up the hill. I don’t know how long we rode the sled that night on Cherry Fork Road but mom had to come out and get us. I do remember it being a lot of fun and we rode the sled that way for several years.

Riding a sled, in the dark, on Cherry Fork Road is one of my favorite memories from life on the farm. With the recent weather the north is having, it might just be the time to find that old flyer and soap up the blades. It’s been 30 years since I have been on a sled; I bet I could teach my niece a thing or two.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

More Southern Snow Scenes

                                    Snow making the limbs heavy.

                                       Let the shoveling begin.

                               Wally taking a break from his routine.

                                                   More snow.

                                    The official total of four inches.

                         The daffodils trying to survive the winter.

                   This much cuteness is least in Connecticut!
                                                   ~Gina Barreca~



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