Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Oh dear, Blog....part 2

Okay, so I thought it was smooth sailing after the alarm was fixed last Monday.  After all, no more false alarms and water was staying in the pipes rather than imitating bubbling, natural springs.  About the worse thing was Alarm Tech #2 telling Hubby that Tech #1 had no business making quotes on an updated system, as that's why they have Salesmen.

My dear Blog, never let your guard down when it comes to mechanical things.

Two days later I was at my desk when my cell phone rang.  I glanced at the screen and it said, "Alarm Company".  Puzzled, I answered and the woman began in that soft, soothing tone, "This is your alarm company.  We've received a silent panic alarm at your residence and we've been unable to reach your husband.  Law enforcement has been notified."

In my head I heard, "WHAT!?!?!"

Instead I said politely,"Thank you.  I'll try to reach him myself."  She thanked me and we hung up.

Inside my head, I told my own silent panic alarm to back down.  It quivered silently. This was a first.   We've never had a silent panic alarm go out.  You see, I'm number 4 on the list of numbers to call.  That means they'd tried the house, Hubby's Shop and his cell phone with no luck.  Now the man is as bad as a teenager when it comes to his cell phone...I'm not sure he ever turns it off.  Taking a deep breath to give internal panic something else to do, I began calling numbers.  

Home.  No answer.  Casually left message, "Hey, what's going on?  Alarm company called me and you have help on the way."  Cell phone....left same voice message.  Hey, maybe he's in the Shop since the Alarm Salesman's suppose to show today to upgrade our system.  Sure it's before opening time, but that's when he'd want a salesman there.  No answer.  Wow, that must be some sales pitch.

Round two.  Call the house.  No answer.  Well, considering what time it is, he's probably in the shower.  But just in case....call Cell phone and Shop.  Nothing.

Ten minutes have passed.  Round three.  Call house.  Nothing.  Leave message in a more urgent tone, "Silent panic alarm went off.  Where are you?"  Cell phone....didn't even bother to leave message.  Shop phone...,"I don't know what's going on, but I'm on my way home!"

This would probably seem like a good plan if I lived in the same town I worked.  There's over 20 miles between home and office.  But something was off.  And being the always prepared girl scout that I am, inside an evil whisper noted, "What if his hip went out and he fell...and used the key fob alarm to summon help?  Obviously he's nowhere near a phone."

So I calmly call our Main office and explain as quickly as possible that I'm concerned something might have happened to Hubby and I would ask my Tai Chi class to leave.  The Office Manager later told me I was so calm that she didn't realize how serious it was until I called back later.  Gave same explanation to class and they hustled out the door, content to finish outside while threatening me if I sped.

Hey, I actually put my car on cruise control so I didn't get a lead foot.  As I silently, then loudly, cursed the truck 4 vehicles ahead of me doing 35 mph on a road with nothing but curves, I tried one more round of calls.  Nothing.  I then called Hubby's pal, who's with the responding department, in hopes he could at least go check until either a Deputy or I arrived.  His phone just rang...and rang...and rang.  I didn't hear a voice mail prompt, so I hung up.  Clear of the idiot driver, I was ready to test hyper speed when the phone rang.

Hubby.

And I answered with a sweet, loving, "Where the hell are you!?  And are you okay?"
By the time he finished explaining, I feared we'd both get arrested for murder.

Turns out Bourbon the Lab, lover of all things wet, had found a mud puddle.  So Hubby left the cell phone in the house to give the dog a bath.  Then another Alarm Tech, (#3) pulled up to upgrade our system.  Salesman never showed but Hubby just figured someone got their wires crossed and assumed we wanted the upgrade as soon as possible.  He put the dog in the house, but didn't grab his phone.  The machine in the house is the only one we've ever had that doesn't BEEP when there's a message.  

Hubby was standing in the yard with Tech #3 when a Sheriff's Deputy pulled up.  Hubby was puzzled, even more so when the Tech checked his watch and said, "10 minutes.  Not a bad response time."

When Hubby questioned that, the mystery was solved.  Tech #3 said, "Oh, I activated the silent panic button to see what the response time for local law enforcement was.  That was pretty good."   

Thankfully Hubby knew the Deputy.  As the officer walked up, Hubby asked the Tech why he hadn't been informed of the test.  The Tech insinuated this was more "real".  It was then Hubby discovered that the Tech hadn't even called the Alarm Company!   Which is when he dashed back into the house to find messages from me that went from everyday jovial to borderline panic.

I think Hubby chewed the kid out...in front of the Deputy.  I went one step further and wrote the phone company.  We've done business with them for 38 years and they're great!  But they contract this type of work out.  You don't know you have idiots working for you if no one mentions it.  I sent a copy to the Sheriff too, with a cover letter thanking him for the quick response time that none of us had known was coming.  He's a new sheriff and things have improved on his watch.  Thought he should know I recognized that.

So Blog, if you don't mind, I'm gonna try and live the rest of the week in as boring a fashion as I can.  Next time we'll have a fun chat.  I promise.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dear Blog

I haven't deserted you.  Really.  I think about you often.  And fondly.  Truth is, sometimes 24 hours isn't long enough to get everything done. Don't give up on me.

You see, I'm a little sleep deprived at the moment.  The alarm went off Saturday morning at 1:30 a.m. with sirens loud enough for my friends to the north and across the pond to hear.  That meant Hubby's shop had been breached.  Note to self: when startled awake at the sound of emergency sirens, plant BOTH feet on the floor as you exit the bed.  One foot landings make the carpet runners next to the bed turn into surf boards.  Your left hip would like to advise that pinching the sciatic nerve does not catch criminals.  The good news was: no break in.  The bad news was the alarm then proceeded to malfunction and scream at 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.. 

Oh, did I mention Hubby walked out the door Saturday morning to discover the water gurgling from the ground wasn't a broken garden hose.  It was neither a hose nor a sudden "natural spring".  It was the pipe from pump house to house.  It created a small lake that made taking our chocolate lab Bourbon outside an impossible mission: he wondered why we kept going out the front door.  He's never met a puddle he doesn't want to embrace.  Stomp in.  Plop down and roll around in.

So that's one call to the Alarm folks, one call to the plumber.   The alarm guy comes that afternoon and fixes everything.  The plumber evidently was secluded in an unknown location.  Not just any plumber...a friend of Hubby's.  I feel nauseous and suddenly there is a sword running from butt, down my left leg and shooting out my ankle.  Next call to Mom: to tell her taking her out to lunch for Mother's Day has been postponed.  My ego officially hits the floor as our household's unofficial "theme song" plays in my head.  It's from an old t.v. show called "Hee Haw" and yep, it was as country cheesy as it sounds..  Evidently both of our Dads liked the stupid show because we both know it.  The song goes, "Doom, despair and agony on me.  Deep dark depression, excessive misery.  If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.  Doom, despair and agony on me."  (Even in my head, this is sung in a depressed, twang so southern Scarlett O'Hara would sound like a Yankee).    I apply ice and hope for the best.

Sunday morning at 1:30 a.m. the alarm awakes us from a dead sleep by chirping like a mocking bird on steroids.  Something has gone awry.  I've talked to the nice lady, Pam, at the alarm response center so many times I feel like I should put her on my Christmas list.  She is amazed that I sound so cool.  Well, I was a Dispatcher once and I know if you talk slow, your voice won't jump five gears to the point you sound like Alvin the Chipmunk.   Plus, I've spent quite a bit of time on ice that day. 

Hubby cooks chicken to take to his Mom's as all three of his siblings are at her house for Mother's Day.  I send my regrets and grab an ice pack.  I knew she'd understand.  Not because I married the only boy in the family or because I can always be counted on. Nope, bad backs run in their family and she's had enough back surgery to feel sympathy for me.  Hubby comes back home later with enough food to feed an army.  Then the plumber calls.

Evidently, third time's the charm.  I get home Monday to hear that the alarm has been properly fixed.  I say properly because it turns out that the nice young man who seems to bathe in cologne, had fixed the wrong parts, therefore confusing the radio signals, which is why things were chirping and complaining.  The plumber showed up.  Natural spring gone.  Bourbon, however, found the new watering hole.  Hubby came around the corner and said the dog looked like he was made of mud.  He got a bath.  Hubby probably got high blood pressure and wet.

So my dear Blog, things have been coming at us hot and heavy.  Thankfully my body comes with a self adjusting mode: I can turn back and forth to make my back snap into it's God given position.  Nerve un-pinched, now just sore.  You know it's pretty bad when you can get on your own nerves.

Don't worry blog.  Think of it as you've been on vacation and now you can tell me all about it.  At least you don't have a theme song or the problems of the every day lowly human.  Be thankful.

NOTE: Oh man, I found the silly thing!  It even sounds depressed.




Saturday, April 28, 2018

I Am...

...slowly returning back to normal after an intestinal bug I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Well, at least not on my friends.  Feel kinda like a limp rag, with little energy and no ambition.  Plus prior to that, I pulled a muscle (yes doing something I knew better than to do, but hey, I work alone) making it uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time.  (Yes Ponita, alternating ice and heat...getting better, just not fast enough).

...a little concerned.  When I called work late Tuesday afternoon to say I'd be out one more day, I was met with the comment that my Supervisor had just wondered where I was, as it wasn't like me to miss an event.  I asked if anyone had played the answering machine, where I called in MONDAY morning before the office opened to say I was ill.  They were shocked.  Seems no one knows where the PLAY button is.  Sigh.  

...a little worried.  Poor Hubby has a kidney stone and I hate that for him.  It's not the first and probably won't be the last.  Mom once said she'd had kidney stones and gave birth 3 times...and she thought the stones hurt worse.  So I grew up believing that the closest a man could get to the pain of childbirth was a kidney stone.  According to Hubby, he must be having twins.

...mostly tired.  Of all the noise and yelling and finger pointing in what use to be called "News" and is now more akin to media hell.  I turned off the t.v. and decided to play a game on the computer.  At least THAT puts me in control for a moment...as long as I don't sit too long.

...still in possession of my sense of humor.  Because before I turned the t.v. off, I heard an award winning (retired) reporter say, "South Korea is like Charlie Brown and N. Korea is like Lucy...with the football."  That made me smile.  Not sure what it says about me, other than I can still find humor in almost anything.

Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thinking Out Loud


     When looking at photos of myself as a kid, for a while I see a spark of curiosity that NOTHING could stop.  I hung upside down from my swing set and posed like a circus acrobat next to our wading pool.  Training wheels didn’t last long on my bike because I learned to ride the bike of the little boy across the street.  Yep, a boy’s bike.  I was outgoing and creative to the point of bossy.  Once, while the neighborhood kids and I were pretending to live in the Old West, I began instructing them on their “roles”, as if I was a Director on the set of “Gunsmoke”.  Yep, including their dialog. Today, that approach to “fun” would mortify Polite Me.
         There are photos of me in Halloween costumes which brought out my inner actress.  Dressed as an angel for a school classroom play, I actually VOLUNTEERED to step forward and sing “Away in a Manager”.  As a solo.
         And then one day, a switch flipped. 
         I went from ready to take on the world to painfully shy.  Blushing seemed to be my new talent.  Hiding in plain sight was my goal.  Finding a corner to observe the world was how my curiosity was fed.  Rather than raise my hand to answer the question, I silently prayed to avoid the spotlight.  Even if I knew the correct answer, I didn’t want all eyes on me.
         For years I wondered what changed.  What happened?  There was no personal tragedy.  No bullying.  No one being condescending.  The change silently occurred before puberty struck, so it wasn’t hormones and growing pains. I had, by choice, backed away. But why? I continued to wonder.  I finally figured it out.
         1968.
         The year I was ten has been described as “The Year That Shattered America”.  And all of it was documented on television. Back then, if your t.v. program suddenly became a static screen with the logo, “Special Bulletin” and a man toned gravely, ”We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin…”, something major had happened.  Something terrible.
         Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination.  When I learned of it, I was at a birthday sleepover.  All the other girls ran off to play a game, but I sat with the hostess’ Dad, watching the sad news unfold.  I felt the oddest emptiness in the pit of my stomach.  Dr. King and I shared a birthday and even as a kid I knew parts of the, “I Have A Dream” speech.  But I was witnessing a nightmare.  The nightly news would fill with the frightening, yet understandable, reply of rage in the streets.
         Months later, I’d go running into the kitchen to tell Mom that someone had shot Bobby Kennedy.  At first she didn’t believe me.  She thought I was confused and had seen something about JFK.  I persisted.  She relented and followed me.  Then she cried.
         T.V. didn’t seem to be my friend any more.  The Vietnam War was a nightly event.  When Uncle Walter Cronkite, the most objective newsman on the air, suddenly called U.S. involvement, “mired in stalemate”, I realized for the first time America didn’t win everything we attempted. Then the Democratic National Convention erupted. I can still see Dan Rather literally caught in the middle while trying to report.
         Today I checked to see what else had happened in 1968.  While I was aware of all of these events, I had no idea they’d all occurred the same year.
         North Korea seized the USS Pueblo: 1 killed, 82 imprisoned.  At year’s end they released the crew, but kept the ship.  (It’s on exhibit in the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang).
         S.C. State University: (aka the “Orangeburg Massacre).  Police opened fire on students protesting segregation in the town’s only Bowling Alley: 3 died, 27 wounded.  The 9 officers were acquitted.  The protest organizer was convicted of inciting a riot and served 7 months in prison.  He was pardoned…25 years later.  As kid living in S.C., this was unnerving.
         Pres. Johnson, having failed in Vietnam and struggling with Civil Rights, decided not to run.  Protests are held on college campuses nationwide while Draft Cards are burned.
         Dr. King is assassinated.
         Bobby Kennedy is assassinated.
         The Democratic National Convention: Members of the National Guard club/use teargas on antiwar demonstrators, as well as innocent bystanders and reporters.  The violence is caught on live t.v..
         Controversy ensues when Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise gloved fists during the medal ceremony to protest violence and poverty among African Americans. They are stripped of their medals.
         Fifty years later, I find it ironic that 2018 could also be described as, ”The Year That Shattered America”.  Politics are more important than people.  The Village that it used to take to raise a child is torn into special interest subgroups…the One Voice of a nation gathering strength is now a cacophony of special interests not aimed to aid the huddle masses yearning to break free.  Common Sense….R.I.P.
         I kinda miss “Special Bulletin” reports.  Those interruptions marked rare moments in history where America might not have shone in the moment, but once in-the-heat-of-the-moment emotion abated, we realize we’re stronger together than separate.  Now if only we'll put that into motion again, rather than view the world as Violence vs. Silence.
         Come on Common Sense…I don’t think I’m quite done with you yet.
 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

She's Got a Ticket to Ride



          As the firstborn kid, I’m the “responsible” one.  Dependable.  Boringly normal.  Not a risk taker.  And yet, as a child I was mesmerized by NASA’s space program.  I like my own backyard and I hate math, so it was a no-brainer that I wasn’t astronaut material.  But I was a great cheerleader, crossing all my fingers and holding my breath during each launch.  Never did counting backwards from 10 seem like such a nerve wracking miracle as when a rocket was on the launch pad.
            My only “geek” moment came about several years ago when NASA issued a commemorative medal for the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. I always thought it was interesting that I was 11 that year.  I don’t think I ever looked at the moon the same after that.  The medal contained, “actual flown spacecraft metal” from one of the missions.  I’m sure it wasn’t from Apollo 11 and it was probably a bolt that was shaved down and sprinkled into the mix.  But the point was, it had been in space…to the moon!
            That medal sits on my computer desk, just above my head.  It’s like a silent reminder of all the good, wonderful and amazing things that humans are capable of.   It’s a physical representation of a childhood filled with wonder and awe.  And I thought it would be my only geek space moment.
            Until last week.
            Granted, seeing William Shatner, my childhood Capt. Kirk, speaking in a promo with a NASA logo intrigued me enough to stop and turn up the sound.  (Okay, I admit it: there is too much noise sometimes on the internet so I keep the sound off unless something peaks my interest).  I reached for the sound button.
            NASA is sending the Parker Solar Probe into space to study the sun.  According to their info, the probe, will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it.”  The probe, which launches between July 31- Aug. 19th, will provide data on solar activity, aiding in the ability to forecast major space-weather events impacting Earth.  A recent survey by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that without advanced warning, a huge solar event could cause $2 TRILLION dollars in damage to the U.S. alone and the eastern seaboard of the U.S. could be without power for a year!
          But it wasn’t the gloom and doom aspect of this mission that caught my attention.  It was the words “historic”, ”extraordinary” and “you can be a part of it!”
          Me?  How?
          In one of the coolest free offers ever presented, by merely signing up, my name has been added to a microchip that will be placed on the probe.  From the safety of my home, I will take winged flight toward the sun and not become Icarus.  Better yet, I’ll be part of a space exploration…and no math was involved.
          To get your ticket visit go.nasa.gov/HotTicket.  There’s more info on the mission at http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu



Saturday, March 3, 2018

It's Worth a Try

Some of my senior citizens have conquered e-mail...even if they fear pdf documents and asked me to send their newsletter in the regular mail.  And because this is a "younger" group than I inherited over 20 years ago, they are beginning to embrace technology, rather than think it's a sign of witchcraft.

Last week a woman, her husband and 17 year old granddaughter came by.  They'd just retired here from Bakersfield, CA and were looking for something to do.  She exclaimed she'd driven by before and didn't know we were there.  How long had we been here?

Forty three years, I sighed.

Ten minutes later, another woman walked in to join us.  I thought she was with them.  She said she'd been at the car wash out front and noticed our sign.  How long had we been here and why didn't she know about us?

Over 40 years, chimed in the other woman, still surprised. 

Because they built the car wash in front of us and made us move our sign back, I added.  Way back...off the road.  The ones placed at my begging...um, urging, by the Highway Dept. point to everywhere but where our driveway is on the highway.

The second woman was looking for something to do as she'd just retired here.  From California.  Amazingly, she'd lived 30 miles away from the other couple.  They all promised to return.

The next day, a woman came in and said she'd been riding by and just saw our sign.

Yep, same conversation.

I'm sure part of this new "noticing" of our Center is because they built a Walmart Neighborhood Market next door.  It's increased traffic in the area...which is really horrible at quitting time when I'm trying to turn left to go home.  But I digress.

In an effort to make us more noticeable AND bring them into the world of technology, I received permission to create a Facebook page for us.  Oh yeah, pdf documents are scary, but FB they like.

So if you're in the Facebook neighborhood, you can find us at Spectrum Senior Citizens Center.   Come on by, maybe give us a LIKE so I can prove to the Boss that all my begging...um, requesting, wasn't in vain.  And thanks to my Blog World buddies who've done just that.  Any guesses as to who the 1st LIKE was?  Hint: he can really sing and if I raise a glass to him, I'll have to hand it over for him to drink for me.

Hey, if nothing else maybe it will cut down on the phone calls I get for the Spectrum CABLE company.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Whaaaat?


You know I’m Director of a Senior Citizens recreational Center.  This means from time to time I need to do something “special” to shake things up.  One of those things is our weekly lunch, which I cook.  We always celebrate holidays… as many as we can cram into the calendar.  This year we celebrated Valentine’s Day with Mardi Gras.

Ah, chocolate. Gumbo and beads.  What a combination.

For Mardi Gras, Hubby always makes Gumbo for my group.  I add masks and beads to the table for them to wear.  The two ladies who’ve actually been to Mardi Gras explain why our Lunch is better (meaning quieter and safer) than the real thing.  You know, when you get to a certain age, you do begin to feel like a target for every criminal and pickpocket in a 25 square mile area.  Hubby’s gumbo is always a hit.  Hey, the man can cook.  (I knew what I was doing when I married him).

Now if only my phone was as smart as Hubby.

Yesterday I sent him a “Thank You” text for the gumbo, which was, once again, their favorite lunch so far.

Seconds later he replied, “Okay.  I think you need to read your message.”

Why?  I just sent it, was my immediate thought.  But I reached for my phone to discover this is what IT had sent.

“Your grandma was a hit, as always.  Thank you.”

Sigh.

Maybe my phone needs to soak in a gumbo bath for a while.