Monthly Archives: March 2011

Can’t a Girl Get a Pack of M&Ms Around Here?

Exhausted. Walked up to Capitol Hill today. Roamed the streets and ended up in Volunteer Park. Didn’t go in the Asian Art Museum — no rain, no museum — but I did stroll through the Volunteer Park Conservatory. I walked around the Water Tower. I read that if you walk up the winding staircase of the old Water Tower you will see the best panoramas of the city. I thought about it but I couldn’t bring myself to walk up —  just so tired. Maybe I’ll walk back with Drew on Saturday  — oops, just heard the weather forecast — or maybe I won’t.

There are two items I need at all times in my hotel room: potato chips and M&Ms. Now we’re not talking just any chips or M&Ms — I’ve walked over 8 miles in 3 days and most of that time I was looking for just-plain-potato chips. Not thick, not hand-made, not low-fat . . . just real potato chips. And M&Ms — who would think it would be so hard to find a pack. It was not easy  — All I wanted was peanut  M&Ms. Found a small market just as I was about to pass out near the hotel.

Like I said before: I’m exhausted.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I’m tired and here’s a picture.

Tomorrow . . .

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Seattle weather: Same as usual

When you walk into a sushi restaurant and it is crowded on a week night it means one of two things: Cheap prices or great sushi. In this case it was great sushi. Shiro was crowded, so Drew gave them his name and cell number and we went across the street for a drink.

People are friendly and very polite in Seattle. Yesterday when I bought my sandwich, I paid for it with a 50 dollar bill. I handed it over and said, “Can I break a 50?” and he said, “Sure. Thank you for asking.” Oops, wait a minute — did I catch the nice bug by asking? There were other instances of super politeness throughout the day. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s just more than I’m used to.

So we are at the bar across the street. There were 3 of us. Me, Drew, and Derek (in from NY/works for Drew.) There was a trivia game going on — guess it’s a bar thing — and in between a trivia question the woman with the dog on her lap turns towards us and directs the following remark to Derek, “I see your parents are visiting.” What do you say to that?  Drew and I are looking over at Derek as he chokes on his drink and spits out the words, “No, he’s my boss!”  I don’t know where that fits in with politeness in Seattle but it had to be told. She did apologize profusely when she saw how we all reacted.

Drew’s phone was ringing while we waited. It was the hostess from the restaurant. Our table was ready. We went over, sat down, and, as the hostess was seating us she said, “Thank you for coming back.”  Sushi great and all employees super polite!

Today I went to my cooking class. On the way someone in a wheelchair, who I am pretty sure was homeless, came up to me and said hello. I said hello and was waiting for him to ask for money. He said, “You from around here?” “No,” I said quickly and kept walking. He kept up with me. “You’re a tourist,” he said. “Well, I never liked that word,” I said. He laughed and said, “Are you lost? You need directions?” “No, I’m fine.” “Okay, have a nice day.” And off he went.

Must be that northwest air. Last year in Vancouver, Drew and I would be looking at a map on the street and all sorts of people would stop and ask if we needed directions. After a few times of this we were afraid to take out the map in public.

The class was fun, informative, and a nice lunch treat. Afterwards Seattle Art Museum to get out of the rain, a stop in at a wine store for a bottle of red from Washington. I went with Syncline, a 2009 Subduction Red,  from Columbia Valley — only 1,488 cases produced. A review tomorrow.

Back at the hotel. Waiting for my honey to join me here. Some cheese, snap peas, and a glass of wine before dinner.

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At least you have flowers to brighten up your stay

What a way to start a vacation. We flew Delta from JFK to Seattle. Our seats weren’t together. They were 2 middle seats. Drew was pretty sure we could change them at the airport and he was right. “The good news is that we are sitting together. The bad news is we are sitting in the last row by the bathroom.” How bad could that be? I was sitting with my honey.

Next time we say NO WAY . . . the aroma of coffee, bathroom freshener, mixed in with the actual smell of an airplane bathroom in constant use was too much for me.  It was a bad idea and it was the first time I ever threw up on an airplane. It was quick and I felt better right away — enough said.

A wet cold day in Seattle — went down to the desk and asked a question. She started telling me places to go. “And if you want to get some shopping in there’s Nordstrom and Macy’s . . .” Ahh, stop right there. Then I asked her if it was going to warm up at all because if not I’m going to buy a scarf. “Oh, a great place to buy a scarf is right up this way,” she points on the map and says, “Nordstrom Rack.” No, no, no, I didn’t come all this way to feel like I’m back home.

Walked around the Waterfront, Pike Place Market, and, as usual, in circles. The flowers and the seafood in the market all looked incredible.


Bought a turkey sandwich on sourdough and went back to the room for lunch. The sandwich was delicious — even the lettuce and tomato was tasty. Checked my email, watched a Law and Order and ate my sandwich. Then I went to search for a Hallmark card for Drew’s dad. He’ll be 92 in a few days and I really didn’t think it would be so hard to find a nice card with lots of words. I found a Walgreens and saw two cards that would have been nice but one was printed in silver ink and the other had print so light I had a hard time reading it. Oh well, struck out on that one. Passed through Pike Place for the third time today and bought some flowers, cheese, and snap peas.

Just like home

Went to the front desk and got a vase. “What pretty flowers,” she said as she handed me the vase, “At least you have the flowers to brighten up your stay with all this rain every day.”

Sushi soon with Drew — if I can stay awake.

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Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

The following happened when Hannah was in 9th grade and Rachel in 12th grade:

It was cold out and I offered to drive Hannah to Calhoun HS. Driving to the school takes around 2 minutes. Walking takes around 6 minutes. We get in the car and the windshield is covered with a thin layer of ice. The car warms up and the ice melts.

Let me write you a quick note just in case you are a minute late. Hand me a piece of paper,” I reach over and Hannah hands me a sheet. I write: Please excuse Hannah for being late. She had a headache. I sign it, hand it to her, and put the car in drive.

That’s a lie. I can’t give them this note,” she quips. “Hannah, what’s the difference. Just give them the note.” Silence. “Okay,” I said, “write your own note and I’ll sign it.” So she does. She tells the truth. She was (one minute) late because the windshield was icy.

I drop her off. After school, I’m in the car with Hannah and Rachel. Hannah was upset. Apparently, when she handed in the note it was counted as an illegal lateness — excuse unacceptable. Some teacher was standing there and made a comment about how he made it in on time and he had an icy windshield.

Rachel was quick to respond, “That’s what you get for telling the truth”

Why am I writing about this now? Because this morning Drew handed me his Stereophile* and said, “You have to read this. I think you’ll like.” And for some reason I thought of the above incident.

So here’s this guy. His name is Art Dudley and he writes for Stereophile. In part of his article he describes his experience buying merchandise from

Apparently he found out that Amazon was selling vinyl. It made him happy. He ordered an LP (the reissue of McCoy Tyner’s The Real McCoy) and when he received it in the mail, it made him sad. “The carton was oblong, and was larger than 12″ in only one dimension,” he writes in his article. Now for those of you who don’t know the dimensions of a record album cover it’s about 12 7/16″ x 12 7/16″. (But who’s measuring?)

When I look up vinyl I read the words —  tough, flexible, shiny plastics, often used for coverings . . .

Given the definition you could surmise that the person packaging the album figured it was a tough, flexible piece of shiny plastic. Sounds like it is bendable to me. What do you think? So shoving it into a carton which is a bit too small shouldn’t damage it, Right? Oh, and the album cover — you know the cardboard, protecting the LP, with all the artwork and information — eh, not a big deal — rip it open and throw away the cover.

I’m getting off track here. Let’s make this simple. Apparently, Art was not happy. He didn’t want a damaged LP. He printed a label, sent an explanation, received another damaged LP. (Also, packing issue.) Each time Amazon (man or robot?) wrote back and requested a fuller explanation.

I’ve made several returns to Amazon without a problem and without having to give a fuller explanation. If I receive a book and the cover is damaged (could be a simple crease) I print a label and for an explanation I would probably write, “Book is damaged. It is ripped. Send replacement.” (I have on occasion called Amazon and spoke to a live person.)

So I see in Art’s first return he said:  This is a vinyl LP, and whoever packed it did so by mashing it into a box that was too small for it. The jacket is now bent, and the disc inside is obviously warped. Please send a replacement.

Obviously warped — what you meant to say is absolutely scratched or broken.

In his second return he wrote: The damage to the replacement LP . . .  was that the cover was severely bent and creased on the edge, indicating that the record inside was probably not flat. I did not try to play the record . . .

Why say all this — Indicating . . .probably not flat? Does it even matter if the record is damaged? Isn’t the album cover just as important? I return books if the cover is damaged, if a page is slightly bent, or maybe my head is pounding and I don’t like the title of the book that day. But regardless, just tell them what they need to hear. It’s ripped, it’s in pieces, it’s broken!

In the end, he did get his refund and a note which stated: We’ll investigate further and make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. In the meantime, the item may temporarily be unavailable to purchase from

I just checked online and see that Amazon is again selling The Real McCoy in vinyl — only 4 left in stock and shipped in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging. Well, thank you Art. I guess they solved the packaging problem.

Oops, just looked up what CFFP means:

What does it mean to be “Certified Frustration-Free Packaging”?

Certified Frustration-Free Packaging means:

  • Easy-to-open
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Ships in its own package without an additional shipping box

Why does Amazon usually ship a box inside another box?

A product’s original box often is not designed to be shipped directly to the customer. To ensure it arrives safely, we may place it inside another box. With Frustration-Free Packaging, the products have been designed to ship in their original containers directly to the customer.

Sounds like they solved the problem of mashing the album into a small box. No box, just a label. (Here’s a tip: After removing the address label be sure and pour some nail polish remover on the cover to wipe off any glue residue.) I’m tempted to order an LP now but, no, I think I’ll just reread this article and shake my head.

And next time — just tell them what they need to hear.

*Entertainment for Gentlemen by Art Dudley, Stereophile, April 11, 2011, , Pgs 37-41

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The Town That I Live In: NoMe

Pulled this off the internet: “For all your non-kosher lunch needs, Chicago’s Potbelly Sandwich Shop is opening its first New York location in FiDi.

OMG . . . looks like four letters is the new six or above!
Another play , another day in the city — a cold one! Drew and I drove in to see The Other Place. It’s part of the MCC membership. We were seeing the 2 o’clock matinee. We left the house at 12:30 and drove in. That was cutting it a bit too close for me. For Drew — plenty of time, “Don’t worry we’ll make it.” We took the midtown tunnel, scrambled around the West Village (or is that now WeVi.) We found a parking spot, picked up our tickets, and I practically knocked over everyone in front of me — cutting the line and rushing to the bathroom —  which only led to another line.

Not sure about the play. Certainly not a happy one. Interesting and short, I like that . . and a bit confusing. It’s nice to walk out of the theater and be in WeVi. It’s not nice when the temperature is below freezing and it is almost April. We  walked into Barnes and Noble to warm up and think of our next move. Let me rephrase that: I went in to warm up. Drew went in to thaw his fingertips so he can play with his Droid and download something or other. “It’s free today,” he said. “So how much does it cost normally?” I ask. “99 cents,” he mumbles.

Text to Rachel and Hannah: Play over.

Drew and I walk past Cafe Reggio — which was newly painted in a bright green —  over to the Olive Tree Cafe on Macdougal. Sat at the bar and ordered a drink. Drew reminisces, “This place hasn’t changed. You know, this is where I used to play backgammon with your brother all night.” I’ve heard this before, “Yes, I know.” All the while Drew is playing with his Droid. “I think you’re worse than Rachel with her iphone,” I say in between sips of my Stoli Vanilla and pineapple. “Whaaat?” he squeals back.

He repeats, “This place hasn’t changed . . .” to the bartender. And then he asks if they still have backgammon sets (yes, they do) and says something which translated in real talk would mean “Wow, I’m so old. You probably weren’t even born when I hung out here.” I think he said this before Hannah arrived but I can’t be sure.

Hannah met us (Rachel busy) and she gobbled down a veggie burger and sipped an Irish coffee – but not before showing her id. Then she took us to Dove and we had some very tasty drinks. Mine had ginger and vodka in it. Can’t remember the name. We chatted with the very happy bartender. I think Hannah would be a perfect fit behind that bar.

It was cold, we were hungry and Hannah has to get back to EaVi to meet her friends. We sent her off in a cab and walked over to the Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelia St.  Mmmmm, delicious.

Made it to our car without freezing to death and drove back to NoMe.

Late breaking update from Hannah —  (ps i like how you just try to make daddy look like he did dumb things and conveniently left out that you tried to take my underwear out of my bag at the bar) xoxoxo

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0 bloggers like this post

Do you have to be a blogger to like my post? Can’t you just be a friend or a relative, or, perhaps, a stumbling-upon-my-blog stranger? I say I’m writing this for myself and I am. But sometimes when I look at the numbers and I see a spike in readership I get very excited. So maybe in a way I really would like more people to read this. Why would they? I don’t know.

I am not a blog reader. I’ve checked out quite a few blogs. I’ve looked them over once or twice — no, usually once. Like I said, I am not a blog reader. I’ve given my address out and days later when I run into someone who knows of my blog they say, “I’ve been so busy, I need to catch up on your blog.” I say,”No, you don’t. It’s okay, I don’t need to hear excuses, I understand.

So what makes a good blog? Apparently not my life. I’m pretty much done with the squirrel talk — for those of you who keep saying, “Enough with the squirrel already. Move on with your life!” (Actually only one person said that to me but I must treat her with kindness — she is one of my faithful followers and I hope she brings her computer to Hawaii.)

Why is it that when the weekend comes around I find it hard to get my 300 words out. Wait, it’s only Friday.

So, Hannah sent me a text last night, “What should I wear to admitted students day?” How do you answer a question like that? I’m surprised she didn’t call the admissions office to find out. She was going up to Columbia today for Admitted Students Day with her roommate, Anna. The two of them were accepted into the MPH program. I’m pretty sure the two of them were looking at each wondering what to wear. Or do you think it was all Hannah and Anna had already picked out her outfit?

I say: You’re already accepted — go naked, my girlie,  and don’t forget to accessorize!

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Slaving in the Kitchen

Bought some good looking salmon steaks and wild baby dandelion greens yesterday for dinner. I’ve really been in a salmon kind of mood. Marinated the salmon and then Drew called and said, “I’m so full. I didn’t even eat my salad. There was food in the office. What are the dinner plans?” “Um, uh, I marinated the salmon, cut up some veggies but if you are not that hungry I’ll save it for tomorrow.” “But the fish is marinated,” he says. “Yeah,” I mumbled, “and the recipe says to marinate at least an hour and can be marinated overnight.

Okay, hold off on the fish. I might go out for a drink and grab a bite,” he quickly said. I was floored. Here I was slaving in the kitchen — chopping, mincing, slicing, and dicing. I give Drew a bit of an out and he grabbed it. “What do you mean? You’re not coming home for dinner?” “You know I was thinking of having a drink with some of the guys and now that you can keep the fish another day I don’t have to feel guilty,” he blurbs. (Of course, you should — feel guilty, that is.)

I’m home alone, it’s thundering, lightening, hailing, pouring. I’m clutching my new Mag-Lite flashlight and stuck in the house with not even one potato chip!!!! Come to think of it I do have some bon-bons in the freezer. And I also have peanuts and a dark chocolate bar. That should carry me into the next day.

Drew ended up working later than usual and not going out for that drink. Instead he drove home in the worst of the weather and I didn’t feel like sharing my chocolate with him. I didn’t and he headed for the cheese and those damn noisy unsalted seeds. Ahhhhhhhh

This morning I was lost. I had no salad to make. No chopping, slicing, and dicing for me again. I’m losing it. I need to use my knife. I signed up for a cooking class in Seattle on Wednesday — Soup and Salad Lunch.

Tonight we ate our salmon steaks, brussel sprouts, dandelion greens, and cauliflower with leeks. It was good. I was happy and so was my stud-hub Drew.

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A View From My Deck in Spring

It is snowing, sleeting, raining, and thundering. Hello Spring!

As promised:

my new shed

Can’t wait to put all my broken flower pots, rusty tools, and my favorite wheel barrel into my new shed. I was pretty nervous before the shed was delivered. I get very anxious when I spend money. When I put my signature on the sales receipt I almost passed out. But I’m happy now. The shed was installed before the perennials broke ground. Now that the shed is here to stay I can design a nice surrounding garden. I sure do hope that those six visits to the gym paid off.

Today I had an impromptu lunch with Carol. I probably shouldn’t write about this but, hey, what the hell, it’s my life and I can write what I want. She picked me up in her car. Carol doesn’t like her car. She’s been complaining about it for years and she is handing it in tonight for a VW. I give her a month of love between her and the car. But that’s not what I shouldn’t be writing about.

We drove to the International Cafe in Bellmore, our usual lunch place. I sometimes order the chopped salad but I haven’t been happy with it the last few times — so, while Carol stepped away to wash her hands, I decided on a BLT on rye. She comes back, sits down and says, “Should we order the usual?” The usual is a large Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. I looked at her and must have given her a pained look because she then said, “Oh, are we getting an omelette and salad?” I was speechless. I was weak. I fell apart and said, “Absolutely, waffles. Let’s just keep it a secret,” I blurted.

We ate, we babbled, we ate some more. We talked about books we read — no details — apparently neither of us are good with details. We both said lame stuff to the waitress and left her a good tip.

One more time: Let’s keep this whole waffle thing a secret. If no one knows, then no weight is gained.

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Opening the Floodgates: Posting on Facebook

There — I did it. I posted a comment on Facebook. It didn’t come naturally. I’m more of a Facebook stalker. I read, I look at pictures. Sometimes I even meet Sylvia for dinner and afterwards we find a coffee shop with wifi and stalk around!

I don’t know what made me post.  Judy mentioned Genie Hamp and Joe asked about her whereabouts. Genie and I were good friends way back in high school and then some. So, I don’t know why but, I decided to be helpful. “Don’t know. Last I heard she was in Florida.” I hit return. (I am so full of information.)

Ahhhh, what have I done!  Before you know it, Judy is saying hi, Carol says she misses me — awwwwwww. Ricky wants to be my friend and Stephanie popped out of nowhere. Should I start twittering? Maybe this will get my blog readership up. How quickly would it take me to hit the one million mark?

SHED ALERT: The phone call yesterday said that the shed installer would be here between 9 and 12 noon today. I called Wood Kingdom an hour ago to find out his timing. She tried calling him, no answer. Then she comes back to the phone and says, “He should be there soon. You’re his third stop.” “And how long does it take to install the shed?” I ask. “About 3 1/2 hours.” Why was I so nice to her? I hung up and was wondering why on earth she would give me a  9-12 window when I am the third installation. In real time it’s now 2:03 pm. Still waiting at 3:16. Still waiting at 4:26. Here they are 4:35. Shed up in less than an hour and I forgot to take a picture — tomorrow.

I am in such a constant state of squirrel anxiety. Is there such a thing? I had some cleanup work done yesterday in the attic and today I looked in there and I see the vent that is hanging under the attic fan (original point of squirrel entry) is sagging and needs to be taped up. Maybe the tape didn’t hold or, maybe Stanley has returned with a vengeance. I  called my guy, John, and asked him to come take a look on the roof and make sure the screening around the fan is all intact. (He did and all was fine.) Now I hear a clicking noise and I know it is my noisy refrigerator . . . but I am still scared. I just tip toed over to the fridge and kept my ear flush against the door. Doesn’t sound like a squirrel to me.

Ahhh, there’s a squirrel on my lawn. Helppppp meeeeeeee!

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The FTD ‘Good As Gold’ 7 Day Satisfaction Guarantee

We guarantee fresh, beautiful floral arrangements and plants that will last at least seven days.

If you are not satisfied with the freshness of your flowers, please contact us within that time period and we will replace your item or refund your money.

What they say on the FTD The Flower Experts website: see above.

What they mean in real life:  I’ll begin by saying (and I did mention this to customer service) that they forgot the asterisk after the word Guarantee.* You use an asterisk when you want to tell the reader to look somewhere else for more information — and that information is: The only way you can receive a full refund is if we send the florist to pick up the original order — no matter what the circumstance may be. If there is a stuffed bear involved, it must be returned. No exceptions, that’s policy!

Here’s what happened:

Hannah and friends called FTD, ordered a special bouquet, and had it sent  to Kristin’s mom. On Sunday, Hannah went to visit and saw the arrangement. It wasn’t what she ordered. The flowers were tulips of various colors and sizes flopping in the vase, all wrong!  She called FTD (within the 7 day satisfaction guarantee.) They gave her a few options:

  • send out a replacement
  • a refund of a few dollars
  • have the florist pick up the order and then get a full refund. (They could refund the flowers but the florist would have to pick up his vase and stuffed bear if you want it all.)

It’s their policy and all were unacceptable, but Hannah had to catch a train. So Mommy — who loves this stuff– tells Hannah to forward all the information to her.

Monday morning, Mommy prepares for the call: I go online and find the number for the executive office and also the name of the CEO of the company. Then I call customer service.

Hi, I’m calling about an order I placed. The flowers were already wilting and it’s not what I ordered. I’d like a full refund,” I say imitating Hannah’s cute voice. It was the same story. “We can send out a replacement but if you want a full refund we have to pick up the vase and bear.” I read her what it says online about satisfaction guaranteed and a full refund. “Yes, we will give you a full refund but the florist has to pick up the rest of the order.”

So you’re saying that the wrong order was sent and on top of that the flowers weren’t even fresh and I have to call the person I sent the bouquet to and tell her to listen for the door because someone is coming to pick up what’s left of it?” “Well, yes, or we can give you a partial refund and this way she can keep the bear and the vase.” “Sorry, not acceptable. i want a full refund and I’ll have to call the executive office to get it.” I hung up and called the executive office.

The receptionist answers and I say, “I need to speak to someone. I am just livid over an order that I placed.” She transferred me to Member Services and when they answer I say, “Hi, who am I speaking to?” She immediately hung up on me. I call back and tell the receptionist my problem and she transfers me to a Corporate Manager.

So we go through the details again and to my surprise she said the same thing they all said. “I’m sorry but it is our policy — if you want a full refund we have to pick up the merchandise,” she says. “In addition to it being the wrong order, the flowers were already wilted. I’m not returning anything. Your florist sent a shoddy bouquet. Deal with him, not me. I want my money back.

Oh, poor quality, well that’s a different story. We can give you a larger refund and she names an amount. This way she can keep the vase and the bear.” “Not acceptable,” I say. “If you want a full refund you will have to return the vase and bear or the florist will be out the money,” she stupidly says.

Something snapped inside my brain. “What are you crazy? You should fire the damn florist.” “Well, maybe we will,” she responds. “That bouquet she received was embarrassing. The florist screwed up. Not me. I paid for a certain bouquet. I didn’t receive it and I want all my money back.” “That’s not our policy.” “Well, you should make it your policy. You’re telling me that you can’t refund all my money because the florist will be out 20 dollars? Are we really talking about 20 dollars? That’s nothing for your big corporation but 20 dollars is a lot to me. You should stand behind your product and you should also change your website because I don’t see anything about returning the order if you want a full refund. I want a full refund and if you don’t give it to me I’ll call the CEO of the company right now.

Actually this went on for quite a while but then all of a sudden she said, “Oh alright already, I’ll give you the full refund.” “Do you need my credit card?” I calmly say. “No,” she grumbles, she clearly wasn’t happy. But she couldn’t hang up on me because I already had her name.

My mouth wouldn’t stop. I mentioned the web site and all the complaints I heard about FTD in the past day. I told her they better fix the web site and correct the satisfaction guarantee. I told her about the asterisk. She interrupted, “It’s done. I put it through.” “All of it?” I ask. “Yes, all of it.,” she responds. “Will I get an email confirmation?” And, weakly, she said, “yes.”

And here is an excerpt of that email:

We’re sorry that your experience was less than satisfactory.  FTD.COM strives to provide you with the very finest service. Your card has been refunded in full.

Let us assure you that your experience is not typical, and that your future orders will be filled with the special care and attention that they deserve.

Seriously, I’m not making this up.

Text received from Hannah to Mommy (that’s me) — “You’re my hero!

Rain today — Shed tomorrow!

*I’ve been told that 1-800-FLOWERS is a good company to deal with. I checked the web site and didn’t see any mention of satisfaction guarantee but I heard that someone had a problem and was immediately offered a refund.


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