Friday, February 28, 2014

Playing with a Scammer

Just now got a call from "Billy" of the Computer Monitoring Department at Microsoft. Turns out they've been monitoring my laptop and...


He told e quite gently that yes, you've been hscked.

I kept repeating OH NO OH NO I'VE BEEN HACKED

He was getting impatient with me and I said, What can I do? Should I just send you money? How much?

Do you take American Express? What can I do to fix this?

I was quite enjoying myself when he hung up on me!            

Friday Treats

Barbara came over for lunch today and she arrived bearing a gift from my local bakery where I get my (ahem) home-made Christmas cookies. This is Glaser's bakery, untouched by renovation since 1902. Still has the tile floor (tiny white tiles), still has the wooden display cases with an open kitchen/bakery in the back. Generations of people have gotten their birthday cakes here. The help wear white dresses and they tie your baked goods up using that red and white thin string that hangs from a holder above them.

If possible, these cookies were better than the Christmas ones. I had to move the box out of reach or I would have gobbled up the whole thing. I was thinking how much I love getting little presents like this -- not just cookies, but just small thoughtful makes-life-better giftrs. Thanks, Barbara. Hey, and she took out my garbage on the way out! That's a good friend! Cookies and garbage removal?? Wow.

Read Barbara's comment here and these are the cookies she got today for herself. There's something about that egg wash that is just so good. Just old-fashioned, wonderful cookies.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Over the years, Mary and I have talked about the randomness of births -- how her cleaning lady Eneida could be a high end florist -- she just has a beautiful eye when it comes to creating arrangements out of what she finds in Mary's yard and pairing it with the perfect container. My cleaning woman Ana has a great eye for just arranging knick knacks and pillows -- these are little treats we get.

Today Eneida took a plant and made it a centerpiece for Mary's dining room table.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Really, not much to report. Toddled along today doing work-work. It was snowing this morning and then it stopped -- no accumulation. Bought some flowers today so I'd feel a bit more springy and cheerful. Maybe I'll photograph them tomorrow. It's still winter here on every level.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Ramblings

There's no snow in NYC, but there is snow in DC. Mary has sent along this photo which is the view from her office:

In fact, when Ana was here yesterday to clean, she left the garden door open for 15 or 20 minutes -- a bit chilly, but that fresh air just felt so good.
New topic: Does anyone hate that Jake of State Farm commercial more than I do? Every so often I find a commercial particularly annoying and this is one of them.
Would you believe Amy's leaves from her Christmas flowers are still green? I'm down to three stems of leaves and they are still bright green and pliable. World's record in getting your money's worth.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Mattress

Tonight I'll be on my new mattress, and my master plan worked. Marilyn was here and before she arrived I had taken off all the bed linen down to the empty mattress. The mattress was supposed to come between 12 and 4. When Marilyn was about to leave around 1:30, I told her my master plan had failed and just then the phone rang -- it was the mattress people who said they'd be there in five minutes so Marilyn stayed.

I asked her how much she thought I should tip -- and she said $5 or $10. I wanted to do a bit more so I sat back and said make sure they take all the plastic wrap with them -- sometimes that stuff is on so tight you can't get it off. So Marilyn supervised and decided they had earned $20, considering they had to navigate those two little flights of stairs to my bedroom.

I had paid $5.99 (really, that was the price) for old mattress removal and out the old one went. A while ago, I had spilled Raspberry Crystal Light on my bed so it looked like the loveliest color blood stain. It was good to see that nasty thing go.

The two delivery guys, seeing my bathroom by the kitchen, asked if they could use it. I said of course and they were very grateful for that. One of them said "thank you so, so, so, so much" -- so this is a nice treat.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Money Thoughts

Some of you may know that I finally figured out that even though I lost no business, I have been impacted by the economy. I haven't had to sweat out being called into HR or looking for a job, but the results are kind of the same. It's been a long rethinking of my financial situation as I am used to not having to think about money. I always felt I lived within my means, but I was also used to buying the best (well, within reason) and not having to look that closely at the pricetag.

I have been putting off purchases to those things I "really" need. Suze Orman always talks about the differences between needs and wants. I have broken the habit of the email lure of 30% off, 50% off highest item, free shipping, etc. That's been a while now, and I have to say I enjoy getting emails where these companies "miss" me.

I finally caved in today and bought a new mattress. My current one is just too uncomfortable -- I think this one was a lemon as I only have had it for about 5 years. I was dealing with one of those "live chat" people and told her my budget was $500.  I had looked at a bunch of mattresses -- and sure I'd love to have the TempurPedic --- but the truth is I can't afford a $4000 mattress.

I have to say I didn't feel too bad in that I am not the princess and the pea. Buying the "best"
 mattress is no longer an option and I will survive on my $500 mattress. Delivery is free, and I did pay to have the old mattress taken away (not just left on the curb). She also sold me the super-duper mattress cover which protects the mattress from everything from spills to dust mites -- and gave it to me at half-price.

I was thinking all of this is probably good rehearsal for retirement where I will be living on a fixed income, no doubt, and not riding a horse through my vineyard. I am not ashamed of this money situation as I know many of my friends, probably most of my friends, are in the same position. It just surprises me on a macro-level. Never did I think I'd be concerned about money at this stage of my life. I will say I have a robust nest egg -- I really do -- but I worry Is it enough?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Digging Out

Fran sludged through the snow and made it to work. Mary cleared off her deck and says the sun is shining.

As for me, I've stayed indoors and heard large chunks of snow and ice falling from the roofs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I had a bowl of cereal tonight for dinner which became more appealing when I remembered I had bought these wonderful blackberries over the weekend. Each was like a little jewel, and looked as if it were the middle of the summer. The package said they were from Mexico, and I think for the first time, I thought about the person who picked these blackberries that I was enjoying so much. I was amazed at how gentle the picker and then the packer and shipper had to be to get these blackberries in such perfect shape to me.

In the meantime, it already looks as if snow is melting and that was made clearer with huge sheets of snow falling from the roofs and are really thunderous. Tonight we're supposed to have rain and then more snow in the early morning. I need more blackberries!


Team Coverage: We're getting slammed in NYC.I keep thinking better I'm here than at O'Hare or driving. I've got groceries and work and I'm set.

 Mary says 9 inches in her front yard, and here's the proof.

and here's Mary's front yard earlier today:
and the back yard this morning:

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Love soup. In fact, my last meal could very easily be a big bowl of soup, crusty bread and some fragrant, soft cheese. I'd be willing to go out on that.

This is food porn to me -- it's labeled as Ecuadorian Corn Chowder and I started thinking about what is a chowder vs soup vs bisque. Of course there are hundreds of explanations, many contradictory, but it came down to a chowder is chunky and a bisque is smooth. A bisque is typically pureed shellfish or pureed vegetables. Some sources claim it's the cream that makes it a chowder as opposed to soup, but then the contradiction comes in about cream of x soup -- why isn't that chowder?

Anyway, enjoy your soup, your chowder, your bisque -- it's perfect weather for all of it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sign of Spring

Mary sent these yesterday --- we have no such signs of spring in NYC -- but at least here we didn't get any snow or even ice -- I don't know what this big storm did today. I see a cardinal about once or twice a year in my garden, and here are Mary's cardinals:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Unexpected Snow

With all the news of the Superbowl, today's snow storm took a back seat. I think we must have upwards of 6 inches as of 3 pm, and it hasn't stopped.

It's a big wet gloppy snow - here's a picture a colleage sent Mary from Philadelphia, and this is how it looks here:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wow, not much to report

Just checking in so you know I'm still here. Nothing intriguing to write about; no complaints; no interest in Super Bowl. About to watch Downton Abbey.

After Downton Abbey, I've been watching this show, a reality show, about this place in Nova Scotia called The Money Pit where supposedly pirates buried treasure. People have been trying for decades to find this treasure. I read about it for the first time as a young girl in Reader's Digest and what's odd is that some of the treasure hunters had their first interest way back then as well. I think the article was in 1963 or so. I'd never forgotten that article. So now with all the electronics and detectors it's easier than the olden days to go treasure hunting and last week's show ended with them "finding" something but we might have been tricked with that cliff hanger.

You can read more about it here:

Hope all is well with you.