Monthly Archives: March 2011

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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Filed under Empty nesting, Everyday Woman, Long Island Living

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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Filed under Empty nesting, Long Island Living, Real life, Squirrel Trouble

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.


Filed under Long Island Living, Real life

Ding Dong the Shed is Gone

They took the old shed away, but first they had to empty the truck to make room for the pieces:

Random pickings?

Every year I say the same thing, “I have to get rid of this awful rusty leaky shed.” And every year I also say, “Damn, I should have ordered a shed. Now it’s too late, the perennials are popping.” Well, this year is different. I finally ordered it and I’m nervous. Did I pick the right color? Size? I’m looking over at the corner and now I’m thinking I should have ordered a smaller shed. Maybe a different color? Did I really need the window?  Eh, whatever it is it will be new. Right? Did I even need another shed in that spot. Maybe a vegetable garden would have been better. Ahhh, enough!

More importantly, what’s with the squirrel? Well, this morning I took a hammer and started banging on the plywood covering the crawl space. Hannah stood outside to see if a squirrel ran out in the yard. Nope, nothing. It is very quiet in my yard. I don’t see any happy playful squirrels dancing in the sun.

All yesterday I was thinking of elaborate ways to tell if there is a squirrel coming in and out of the opening. Whatever it was that I thought of pretty much flew out the window when I had to crawl on the ground and stick my head under the cantilever. (Am I using this word correctly?)  I could barely reach the two openings. So I took two white plastic garbage bags, crumpled them up, and shoved them up each hole.

Here’s what it looks like:

garbage bag plugs

I already checked tonight and they are untouched. So far, so good. No traps out tonight. If the plastic plugs are untouched tomorrow, OMG, I think I may have stumbled on a new career — squirrel trapper. I’ve learned so much about the ways of a squirrel these past few weeks. Maybe I should calm down and take it easy. I just want this to be over. Close it up and get on with it.

Tomorrow my new shed is being installed. The contractor is coming over to fix the leak by my front door and fix the air conditioning vents that the squirrels destroyed.

Hey, wait a minute  —  March 20 at 7:21 pm EST — Happy Spring! (Did I hear snowflakes in the forecast this week?)

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Filed under Home Improvement, Long Island Living, Squirrel Trouble

Think Like a Squirrel

Found the point of squirrel entry into my house the other day and set out two traps after dark. I made sure to add plenty of peanut butter, bread, a few whole peanuts and an additional touch of peanut butter right in front of each trap. The next morning I looked out my window and saw a fat, happy squirrel dancing in my yard. Not happy was I.

Ate breakfast, got dressed and just before leaving I went out back and checked on the traps. Both traps were closed tight. One was knocked over and empty and the other one had a squirrel in it. Could it be Stanley? How many squirrels do I need to catch? Sent Stanley off to a park in Massapequa. I hope he is happy and I hope he is him(?) Set the traps again and on Saturday morning there was another squirrel in the trap. That fragrant peanut butter could probably attract every squirrel in Merrick.

Spent the day in the city. Drove in and used my MOMA membership to get twenty dollar parking for 12 hours. A good deal in that area. Drew and I saw The Good People on Broadway. “I really like that play. Did you like it?” he said immediately upon hitting daylight and fresh air. “Yup,” I quickly reply. “I can never tell,” he quips back. Wandered over to St. Andrews and met the girls there. Hannah had just finished volunteering at the Black Party Erotic Expo. And it was another day, another doctor for Rachel — she met us afterwards. We drank and ate appetizers. I think Drew left hungry. He just doesn’t get the only-eat-appetizer part and he didn’t order enough food. It made him cranky.

Drove Rachel home and on the way ordered a burger medium rare to go for her from Royale. (Now she decides to eat!) Hannah came home with us.

And I am ready for tomorrow. Clean up corner for new shed. Old shed is gone and new one delivered on Monday. Yay!  Also, I decided not to put out the traps tonight. Tomorrow I’ll cover the holes with plastic and leave some strips hanging. Not sure how I’ll do this but this way I can see if there is a squirrel getting in or out of the crawl-space. No activity and the holes get closed up. Otherwise the traps go out again.

Wore my new Ecco sneakers today . . . most comfortable.

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Filed under Family, Long Island Living, Squirrel Trouble

Maintaining Hannah’s Body

Waxing, shaving, poking, prodding . . . there is only one other body that I can think of that probably needs more maintenance than Hannah’s — and that body belong’s to Rachel, my unicorn. Today Rachel went to a dermatologist and he gave her a cortisone shot in her unicorn horn. Yes, it is true. I think I have created a monster. A while back I told Rachel about She has MagnaCare, an insurance none of her regular doctors accept. I stumbled upon this website where you pick your specialist, your insurance, your location, and then once you pick a doctor you can make the appointment online. It works for Rachel.

But this isn’t about Rachel. It’s about Hannah. Why do I say that? I say that because I just spent the day with Hannah and from Rachel I couldn’t even get a phone call . . . a phone call to her own mother, phew! All I got was a text, “I’ve been busy sorry went to derm before got cortisone shot in my unicorn horn that’s been there for 2 months.” When I ask her to call me (because she doesn’t answer my call) she answers with a text, “Not now. Why whats up?”

I met Hannah at the train station at around 1 pm. I packed a lunch for her — ginger peanut soup and ice water. I nourish her body and then drive her to the doctor. On the way there she reached over the seat and screamed out. Paper cut. Blood everywhere and no band-aid. Short wait at the gynecologist’s office. Hannah came out with a boring tan band-aid on her finger for the paper cut. Booooring! Don’t know what went on in there. I wasn’t invited.

Are we having fun yet?

Let the fun begin. At the pediatrician’s office Hannah is given a cup to pee in. She claimed she was all cleaned out. “Sorry, but I gave at the gynecologist’s office.” Okay, so they took blood instead and plenty of it. Notice all the pretty band-aids Hannah is modelling. Lovely. Now let’s see, there is a band-aid for meningitis shot, a TB test, and 2 blood tests. Hannah was ecstatic when she heard that she was not the oldest patient at the pediatrician’s office. Try 30 years old.

Wine is making me tired. Good night.

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Filed under Family, Long Island Living

and Today I’m Feeling Gloomy

Phone rang early this morning. Didn’t recognize the name but answered anyway. It was a call telling me that one of the people I deliver Meals on Wheels to had passed away. She didn’t want to tell me when I picked up the meals on Friday — she knew it’s better to tell me right away. I’ve been delivering meals to this woman for over 6 years. She greeted me at the door, always wearing lipstick and dressed. I made sure she was my last stop each week and we would sit and chat for an hour. She had lots of stories to tell and was glad to be alive. She was 90 and in good health, had a boyfriend and kept up on all the latest movies — until she fell in late December and broke her hip. I thought she was going to be the one who made it through but stuff happens and nothing went as smoothly as hoped. When I saw her last week she tired easily but in her words, “Hey, I’m still here.” And she was thankful for that.

I’m glad Hannah and I waited for half an hour on her stoop  2 weeks ago. She had a doctor’s appointment and left us a note, “Please wait for me. I don’t want to miss your visit.” She drove up in the car with her family and they all helped her into the house. She was thrilled to see us and made us wait til she could catch her breath.

The call this morning caught me off guard. It wasn’t a total surprise but then again it was. The problem with death is it’s so final . . . regardless of what you see in the movies . . . there is no turning back.

Tomorrow I’ll deliver my meals but I think it may be time to take a break. I’m almost done with my year commitment to Literacy of Nassau County. I think I’ll end that too. In vicki-time it’s going to be a new decade in April. Think it’s time to start anew. A new what? Not sure but it’s time.

Found a good mood booster: A Trader Joe Vanilla Ice Cream Bon-Bon on a dish and microwaved for 9 seconds. The dark chocolate top lifts right off and if you turn it over quickly, it will be filled with melted ice cream ready to be sipped. Then finish it off by eating the chocolate cookie crust stuck to the plate and covered with drips of melted ice cream. A lick of the plate and no need to wash the dish! How’s that for going green?

Anyone interested in coming over for dessert? I have clean plates!

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Filed under Long Island Living, Real life