Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blaine's Method for How to Hunker Down for a Blizzard...And There Will Be Chili!!

Well golly gee, the weatherman instructed all of us to prepare for a coming snow episode. Well, we thought we were prepared---you can see our snow tools up above, which we figured would be satisfactory.

But now we're not thinking they'll be of any help. Because the weatherman said it would be so bad starting tomorrow that we should put "ice melt" on our driveways and sidewalks TONIGHT. He said there would be light snow showers and freezing rain beginning on Monday morning. Then he said that Tuesday there would be a damn blizzard which would likely dump 10" to 13" of snow on the ground! And then on Wednesday there might be some more snow showers.

TEN to THIRTEEN INCHES? That's a lot for us. And there's still some snow on the ground from the last snow episode!

So Blaine went down to the hardware store and got the ice-melt and loaded it into his "spreader". The spreader is the tool where you load your salt or ice melt and then hand crank it out to spray it on the areas you want.

Lock and load....

He started with our driveway and spreaded it on both our side and our landlord's side.

(Is "spreaded" a word?)

Then he reloaded and gave everything another layer.

(And this was the day he had gone out and got the truck cleaned---including removing the salt layers from the last snow storm....)

Poor Blaine. He spreaded a lot of layers, hoping he could prevent major problems in the next few days.

But personally, the weather forecast is so bad that I doubt this ice melt layer will do diddly squat.

I'll take pics of the progress of the storm and put it on another blogpost. Oh yes, and Blaine went to the grocery store (with my long list) to prepare for not being able to go to the grocery store for a couple days. He got everything he thought we'd need to hunker down for the blizzard. And guess what? He got the ingredients to make his famous chili---which he'll probably make on Tuesday, the blizzard day---yippee!



Monday, January 24, 2011

Cleaning Day

(Wondering if the following statement will fly when Blaine gets home:)

"Hey, it's not my fault I didn't clean. Little Baby blocked the vacuum cleaner and Leonard knocked over my mopping bucket."



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Little Baby Fashion Show

Trying to stay awake in case the Tuna Fairy comes.....

Dreaming of tuna, no doubt....

I have no idea how she can curl up into a ball like that....

Pretending she's posing for a nekkid cat magazine.....January's pin-up cat....

Again, waiting for the Tuna Fairy, guarding both bowls (and the cream saucer)...

Oh....found a ray of sunshine to sleep in....(and I don't need to tell you who she's dreaming about)...

Another nekkid cat magazine pose....



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Public Service Announcement..... Or How to Turn In Your Citizenship Card For "Namby Pamby Land"...



One day little girl,
The sadness will leave your face,
As soon as you've won,
Your fight to get justice done......

("True Grit", Glenn Campbell)


You know, a new scam pops up every day. Especially those types that prey on the elderly. And we, as guardians of our aging parents, need to be sharp---and frequently question them when it comes to their utilities and other large expenditures. Even if they sass you back in a Southern Accent. You've got to be on your toes.

It all started with my beloved Mumsy emailing me the following: "Rats. Satellite dish out and I can't reach the company--and me here with no good book."

I got the name of her satellite company and told her I'd try to get a work request put in for her since she's not good with those type of technical things. She said: "Oh, and the guy says don't call the regular Direc TV number---he said to call this one here."

Ok, it's difficult for my mother to manage technical things like satellite TV dishes, cell phones, and ATM machines. (But she can use powerful saws to cut her mosaic tiles and is a whiz bang with an electric hand mixer.) But she has a hard time explaining things on the phone to slick talking phone operators.

But not me. I'm a bulldozer of a consumer---and I don't, per the popular GEICO "mean psychiatrist" TV commercial, "need to go to Namby Pamby Land to pick up some courage".

Noooooooo, I am a savvy consumer and I suffer no fools. And the reason I don't need to go to Namby Pamby Land to get courage is that I already have it. The shit that I've had to crawl through (literally and figuratively) in my lifetime has painfully burned plenty of courage into my skin, whether I wanted it or not.

But my mother is a Southern Lady and sometimes gets flustered. And she would never think of being "rude" to another person. So she needs my help with some matters, even if I am across the country and out of my natural habitat of The South.

Anyhoo, here's the scam:

Last year she went to buy a TV and got to talking to the shop owner. She made a slight, chatty complaint about how Direc TV wanted her to renew her contract by buying a new box. Immediately she is referred to a "guy" in the shop who makes her what she didn't realize was a devil's deal:

If she'd allow their company to handle her Direc TV account from now on, she'd get an "individual Direct TV account", with the same Direc TV deal she had before, only without having to buy the box. And also that she wouldn't have to go through Direc TV's regular telephone voice menu hoopla for repair calls---she'd deal one-on-one with Direct TV's repair department to get better and faster Direc TV service.

The only catch is that she had to change the name on her account to her middle name....

Great. So she falls for the deal the nice young men offered her, never knowing it's a common scam, sometimes called the "back door" scam. She falls for it and signs on the dotted line, which said "American Wireless".

So. To make a long story short, guess what I found out when I took her information and began investigating why we couldn't get a simple repair call put in to Direc TV?


1. She is not a customer of Direc TV and they never heard of American Wireless.

2. She has Direc TV equipment. She thought that meant she was still a Direc TV customer. Nope again.

3. She gets a monthly bill statement on a paper bill which has realistic looking Direc TV letterhead. I had her look closely. And (as she would say) Oh my word. The bill statement showed an incorrect address for her, and there was another lady's name & address on there for some weird reason--- and the payment money was going to a suspicious address in Arkansas. Also, they convinced her that she HAD to let them take the payments automatically out of her credit card, which might explain why the addresses on the paper bill didn't have to make sense.

4. She can't get ahold of anybody at American Wireless for a repair call. Whatever happened to her getting better customer service if she switched to their repair guys? I called their damn number till it rang for about a zillion times and the cows actually came home, which was all for naught because I never got an answer.

(This may be the one time in my life when I actually wanted a voice recording to answer, if only to immortalize myself claiming that I would "wipe the floor of I-35 with you yella-belly, egg-sucking, mother-cheatin', dog-ruinin', card-cheatin', couldn't-hit-the-broad-side-of-a-barn-with-a-cap-pistol, assholes whenever I finally got ahold of them".....)

Today, my mother is still having a hard time believing she was fooled. She doesn't understand it. She is not like me---she doesn't frisk people at the door, ask for identification, ask 250 pertinent questions, or do background checks. Just kidding, I don't do that---but I can smell a scam a mile away. They would never have even TRIED to screw with me because, although I might look like a small person from Geico's "Namby Pamby Land", I'm actually from Maddie and Rooster Cogburn's "True Grit Land", and am usually loaded for bear when it comes to people cheating me or my mother.

(Or is that Sarah Palin Land???? Let's not go there...)

Okay, there are several morals of this story:

1. If you have a beautiful Southern Lady mother, watch her closely.

2. If your mother is cheated, do not spare the cheaters. If you have to, go get some courage from Namby Pamby Land. But whatever you do, go for the gusto---get those damn cheaters and make sure they cringe the next time they hear your name.

3. Tell them you know the county's Asst. District Attorney.

(But don't tell them it's because the Asst. District Attorney and his brother once saved your ass from a drunk driving conviction by plea-bargaining it down to a lesser charge, behind Judge's Chambers, with the Asst. District Attorney lecturing you in a stern Texas accent: "Now Bo! Don't yew never drink no more booze ever agin', you heah me? And Ah mean it this time, dammit!"

(It goes like that in small Texan towns, sometimes.....but ya gotta come from "True Grit Land".....)


Epilogue: I was able to negotiate a fabulous "Come Back to Us" package from the REAL Direc TV--and admonished my Mumsy to consult me on big decisions--and dammit if she didn't sass me again.



Friday, January 07, 2011

Um....The New Year Starts Out on a Sour Note...


I feel guilty and like a dumb-bunny at the same time. And a complete idgit.

At Christmas, my uncle, my niece (his daughter) and some other people joined my mother's Christmas celebration. And she always decorates the house beautifully. It's like a wondrous fairy land. She and her maid work magic in the kitchen and put out smacking good h'ors doeuves and a bountiful turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Well....they had the great big turkey dinner.....and then it came time to open presents.

Now first let me tell you that last Christmas I knitted an aran sweater for my uncle's roommate, who had hinted all Thanksgiving that he wanted one. After all that hinting, I simply HAD to make the sweater.

(My uncle's roommate is the brother of my uncle's late wife, a woman in her 40's who had had a sudden and deadly heart attack on the kitchen floor---and the ambulance couldn't find the house for an hour since my uncle's house is deep in the swamp right on the river in the underwater cypress groves--and neither my uncle nor his roomate knew CPR, although I don't blame them for that since nobody gives CPR classes anywhere near where they are).

Where was I?

Oh yeah---they were just about to open presents in my Mumsy's living room. (God, that fabulous room is so sacred and holy that I don't believe she'd even allow Billy Graham himself to sit in there---yet she let our "swamp people" and other visitors sit in there to open presents. Huh. Whodathunkit.

Anyhoo, as I said before, the Christmas before this last one, I had made an aran sweater for my uncle's roommate. He loved it so much that he wore it two days straight. (It actually does get really cold in the swamp during winter.) And when my uncle expressed jealousy, I made him a promise, saying to to him: "Don't worry uncle, I'll knit you a sweater, too."

Fast forward to this past Christmas.

I bought a jillion presents for my family. I used up two whole trust checks for my gift-buying. But after all my shopping, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten my uncle!!! So I hurriedly sent him a Hickory Farms basket. My sister sent their house a gourmet basket also (from a different company). (And note....I hadn't knitted my uncle a sweater....)

Finally it came time for my uncle to open his present from me.... and my mother called me 15 minutes later (from a back bedroom's phone) to heartily berate me for the dratted Hickory Farms basket. It seemed that while my uncle was opening the gift from me he said, with a gleam in his eye: "I know what this is!"

And when he saw that it was a stupid Hickory Farms basket, his whole face FELL in disappointment!!! And he said to my mother: "I thought this was that sweater Bo was going to knit for me!"

Oh my God, when Mumsy told me that I told her to go hand the phone to my uncle. And I humbly and earnestly swore to him that I would immediately start his sweater.

So......see the Malabrigo Worsted sweater for me in "Snow Bird" below? Well get it out of your mind, because it won't reappear for awhile. (You can click on the picture to make it bigger.)

(I keep thinking it would have been different if I'd sent my uncle a really cool gift like a new holder for his huntin' gun which he mainly uses to shoot alligators when he sees them sunning themselves on the side of the river.....or else something akin to his sport as a man who raises and fights fightin' cocks---(let's not go there, ok?)---like a chicken statue similar to the ones he collects......but noooooooo! Idiot me sent him a stupid dainty Hickory Farms basket! To a man who uses his pocket knife to cut his steaks! Aaarghh! I don't blame him for being disappointed.)

(And remember, I told you that I have a knack for buying the exact wrong gift for somebody at Christmas---and regretting it for the rest of my life as in the example here....)

So...the Snowbird sweater. Now you see it, now you don't.

And now I am working on a sweater for my uncle. It is in Cascade 220 Superwash and I cannot sing the praises of this soft DK yarn enough. I'm using a dark mocha for the ribbing and will use the lighter mocha for the body. Don't even ask me how the body of the sweater will be because I have no idea. If I can get through the ribbing I'll try and think something up.

I did talk to my niece on the phone(my uncle's daughter, not my sister's daughter) and we giggled and laughed over our exploits when younger. (During the couple of times I got to see her when my parents came to America for a month's "home leave" from the Diplomatic career of living in foreign countries.) Now she's all grown up and is something like a doula, whatever they do--but I know it's something that has to do with birthing babies. She is apprenticing with a lady who is somewhat higher in the hierarchy, whatever THAT is.

One artistic thing my niece does is to make molds of pregnant women's stomachs---and then she bronzes them to make the "singing bowls". She showed me one time when we were all in the swamp for my grandmother, Mamo's, being on her deathbed. Anyway, my niece had one in the trunk of her car. It was formed from some family member of ours. The she turned the bronzed mold upside down like a big bowl, and then she did something to make her hand and finger go round and round on the bowl to make it "sing" a nice bell-ring kind of sound. Cool. Another artist in the family.

Anyhoo, we're going to see each other this year some time when Blaine and I go down south. And then we can laugh about things that happened when we were young and I was in America. We're especially going to laugh about the time when our delinquent cousin Dana waited till my grandfather was gone and then cranked up his riding lawn mower. (Which was going totally against my grandfather's totally serious instructions of how children were NOT to touch his precious lawn mower, because that was absolutely the greatest kid-sin in our family and nobody but stupid Dana would ever rebelliously dare to do it.) Then she climbed onto the behemoth and started driving---but she couldn't control it and promptly accidentally mowed down my great-grandmother, Granny's, petunias--and then her Jack-in-the-Pulpits--and then her geraniums. And she almost mowed down Granny's hapless little dog, Abraham. But that's a hilarious story for another time......