Asking for Directions

A man once told me why he never asks for directions. “Half the time, the person you’re talking to gives you bad information.” He’s probably right. In fact, I remember with  chagrin one day when I was walking back to the office after lunch and a car pulled up asking how to get to Boulder and I gave him directions to Bonanza instead. As the light turned green I realized that I had sent him in the exact opposite direction!

street signs

So yesterday as I was coming out of an appointment, I realized I had forgotten to ask the receptionist if there was a post office nearby. My Christmas cards have been written and addressed for a week. I had actually remembered to buy stamps and so they were ready to go — and they had been; riding around in my car for two days!

At the entrance to the building, I saw an information desk manned (womaned?) by an older lady. I made a quick detour and put the question to her: “Is there a post office nearby?”

“What did you need?” I’m guessing that if I just had something in my purse she would offer to put it in the building’s outgoing mail.

“It’s my Christmas cards. A big bag of them.”

“Oh, then you’ll need a post office. There is one nearby,” she continued. “Just go down Town Center (the main street), through the first round-about which is Covey Crossing. Then you’ll go all the way around and you’ll see the post office. It’s a big building with a flag out front.” She paused for a moment and then added: “An American flag.” Well, that’s a relief — we’re still living in the United States of America.

“Okay, let me get this straight. I go down Town Center and at the Covey Crossing round-about I go all the way around and I’ll see the post office.”

“No, dear. Covey Crossing is the first round-about. You have to keep going.”

“Is there another round-about?”

“Oh yes. The first one is Covey Crossing.” That didn’t clear up the matter for me so I said “Uh, okay. Which side of the freeway is it on?”

“Oh, no, you don’t get on the freeway. You stay on Town Center.” Then her face lit up with inspiration. “Do you know the library?” she asked.

Ah! The library: Tolstoy, Proust, Janet Evanovich. Yes, I knew the library. In fact, I had been to the one in this part of town, but not from this direction. Still, it was a clue. And it was after the freeway — quite a ways after.

“Is the post office near the library?” I asked in a hopeful voice.

“Right across from it. You can’t miss it.” Those words made me cringe.

Ah, there's the post office -- and the American flag.

Ah, there’s the post office — and the American flag.

I should have just headed home and driven the extra 4 miles to my local post office, but I thought “since I’m so close…”

Of course, I never did see the post office, nor the library, nor any signage at the Covey Crossing round-about. I’d navigated two more round-abouts which I purely hate! They have them in England and they work quite well — I don’t know what the difference is. Perhaps it’s because the people in England grew up with round-abouts and aren’t flummoxed by them as I am. Nevertheless, I’d passed two round-abouts and had not seen anything that looked like a library or post office.

Then I remembered that there was a post office not all that far away from where my meanderings had landed me, and sure enough a few minutes later I was there. I pulled up to the drive-by mailbox and grabbed the first handful of cards. Just as I was about to drop them in the box I saw I had neglected to put return labels on them. Drat, DRAT, DRAT!!

To mail them without a return address or not? Not. So back home, put on address labels, get back in the car and drive to my post office and get them gone!

And this is one of the reasons everyone says Christmas is so stressful. but it’s okay now — I’ve got them mailed and with any luck at all, they’ll be there before the end of the week. And just for fun I looked up the location of that post office on the ‘net. Sure enough, I’d managed to drive right past it. I’d probably found it just fine if she hadn’t said those fatal words: “You can’t miss it.”

 

 

 

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Where in the World … ?

Pop Quiz: Who or what is Burkina Faso? Had I not been looking at it in context, I might have guessed a fashion designer, a casino game, or a new hybrid grass seed. But it’s

Perhaps it's a fashion designer from India ...
Perhaps it’s a fashion designer from India …

 

not any of these. Take a guess — go ahead, guess. Give up? It’s a country in Africa. Really? Yep –I looked it up. It’s just north of Ghana and west of Nigeria. And why would I care? because, oddly, someone in Burkina Faso has read out my blog.

One of the fun things about writing a blog is that WordPress keeps track of the statistics — the number of people who look at my posts and the countries where they live.

I have not looked at this in awhile, so today I decided to see where in the world my readers live. Of course, I expected lots of people in the U.S., and I knew my friend Peggy in England was following it and was not surprised to see Brazil where Jean lived (next year it’ll be Bulgaria) and she must have told other people because there’s a whole bunch from Brazil. Oh, here’s South Africa — that’s where my friend Philip & his wife live, but Argentina? And Italy? I don’t know anyone in Italy. Maybe word is spreading — wouldn’t that be great?

My friend Kathi is helping me get my blog to a place where it is more easily accessible on-line and more people will see it. I follow several blogs and notice that there is a place where people can make comments. Try as I might, I cannot make that happen. I’m sure that once Kathi walks me through all the steps, that will work which will be lots of fun.

In the meantime, I’m delighted to see who’s following me. There is Cats at the Bar (http://catsatthebar.org) which every day posts cute cat pictures with clever captions, and the Drunken Cyclist (http://thedrunkencyclist.com) which has intriguing posts and rants about wine, and many others I also follow.

But back to who’s reading my stuff … here’s a bunch of hits from Australia! When my book publisher, Larry,  gave me the most recent royalty check for “Beyond the Spotlight: On the Road with Phyllis Diller,” he pointed out that it had sold in Australia. Phyllis had been to Australia, but unfortunately that was after my time — I would like to have gone there. So I was not overly surprised to see a bunch of numbers from Australia, but how about Albania, Moldova, Croatia, Ukraine and Estonia. Okay — I’m not kidding myself. These all one quick look-see — probably people trolling around the web for something to read. A few more hits in Latvia and Mongolia …

Moving on up the list in numbers, I find Bulgaria (Hey, Jean, you’ll have fellow blog-readers when you go there next year!), Tunisia, Thailand and Singapore. And, here’s a surprise: Russian Federation. Russian Federation? [quick pause here while I check Google … ] Oh it is a Republic of the former USSR. So I guess we’re saying Russia? (As in back in the USSR?) Someone there is reading my blog pretty often. I’m impressed because I would not be able to read their blog in Russian. Добро пожаловать на мой блог! (That’s Russian for “Welcome to my Blog!” Jean told me how to use Google translate.)

Near the top of the list with large numbers are the ones I would expect: English-speaking or multi-lingual countries, mostly European. The U.S., of course, is at the very top with thousands of readers. (Wa-hoo!).  

Where in the world??

Where in the world??

I’m sure this is of more interest to me than to you, but I must say I’m impressed with the power of the World Wide Web. Something I’m writing here at my desk in Las Vegas is available to someone on the other side of the world within minutes. Even people in far-away places like Burkina Faso can be transported to the Entertainment Capital of the World with just a click of a mouse. Is this a great invention, or what?

 

 

 

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Why is saying “Goodbye” so hard?

So I’m sitting in my car thinking, “why was that so hard? Why do I feel like crying?” It makes no sense. The relationship had not been good and it was past time for it to end. Yet, as walked away, I felt pricking behind my eyelids. I turned around for one last look. I truly don’t know why saying goodbye is so hard.

“Goodbye, Foster,” I whispered. “Someone who really wants you is going to come by soon.”  RAV4

Foster was a 2012 RAV4 that I’d bought under duress. My old car was a Ford Explorer that I’d saved for, planned for, shopped for and loved. We’d had wonderful adventures together until he started having more problems than I could deal with. I finally threw in the towel and traded him for something almost new. From the day I drove off the lot, I knew the RAV4 was all wrong. I told my friend Phyllis Palmer (no relation) that I was only going to keep this car until his right family came along. Phyllis said, “So you’re actually a foster parent?” Yeah, I guess. Hence the name Foster.

Every time I got in, I was unhappy, remembering the whole miserable buying experience and the fact that I paid too much. In addition, the needless after-market alarm system they had installed at an outrageous price was a nightmare. The least little thing would set it off: If I got in the car and locked the door before turning on the ignition, the alarm would go off and the car would “die.” I mean, it wouldn’t start. How’s that for a safety feature? You come out of the mall at night — your car is one of the last in the lot. You jump in, hit the door lock, put the key in the ignition and you’re sitting in a dead car with the alarm screeching. The only way to make it stop is to hit the unlock button and OPEN the door. Really super-safe, huh? AND if I didn’t get out of the car within 3 minutes of shutting off the engine, the alarm started shrieking, so if I arrived someplace early, I could not sit in the car and read, or twiddle my thumbs. No — I had to actually get out of the car — or at least open the door.  Other apparently random actions also set off the alarm.

None of this was the car’s fault, of course, but there were other things I simply did not like. Since I keep my cars for their entire life — usually 15 or so years — I just couldn’t see continuing like this. I’d looked on-line for Escapes and figured with dealer’s incentives and discounts, I could probably swing it. After weeks of waffling, I took a deep breath and went to the Ford dealership.

The salesman showed me the new Escapes and suddenly I saw it — the car I wanted! “Chris — there it is! I want that one.”

“Uh, that’s a customer’s car. It’s not for sale.”

“But it’s an Escape, right? It’s just bigger. Why’s it bigger?”

“It’s a 2011.”

“Even better! I’m happy with a used car.”

“You mean a Ford Certified Pre-owned car.”

“Yeah. That.”

“Give me a minute to check something.”

Two minutes later he was back. “We had two 2011 Escapes this morning, but one’s already sold. Do you want to see the other one?”

Emerson - my 2011 Ford Escape

Emerson – my 2011 Ford Escape

“Yes!” And I fell in love. It is bigger than the new Escapes — looks more like my Explorer and is a gorgeous metallic dark grey. I was tired of the gold and silver cars that are everywhere. With the RAV4, the only way I could find it in the sea of look-alikes was to hit the remote and listen for the car that both honked and shrieked because it had two alarms.

I drove the metallic grey Escape. I loved it, and after several hours, and much paperwork and a bunch of figures that kept changing, I finally drove away in my new (Oh, excuse me, “Certified pre-owned”) car.  As I drove off the lot, I had the feeling that I was abandoning Foster which, of course, is silly.

Although this all happened earlier this summer, I’m thinking of it again because lately several people have asked me why I got rid of that Rav4. And yes, it was a big decision and yes again, I lost money, but I couldn’t see spending the next 12 or more years with a car that probably didn’t like me anymore than I liked it.

Still, when I walk through a parking lot and see a Silver Rav4, I always wonder if that’s Foster. I hope he went to someone who will enjoy him as much as I’m loving Emerson.

 

 

 

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I will not Shop on Saturday !

Before I retired, I made myself a promise: when I no longer worked full-time, I would not shop on the weekends. One of my pet peeves was to go to the market and stand in line behind someone who was obviously retired and could have shopped any day of the week, but NO!, they chose to shop on my day off, costing me precious minutes as I stood in line behind them, waiting for them to check out and get out!

(Now I must admit that I have a lot of pet peeves, probably enough to stock a menagerie. A friend who is more open-minded than I am, suggested these people might have to wait until the weekend for a friend or relative who works to drive them to the market. I admit that is a consideration — for maybe 5%.)

So today, Saturday, not only was I shopping, I was shopping at my least-favorite store in the entire universe: WalMart. Can you imagine WalMart on the

Amazing -- they had all their registers open. Someone alert the media!

Amazing — they had all their registers open. Someone alert the media!

weekend that is beginning the holiday season? Actually, by some miracle, they seemed to have all their checkstands open.What a concept! No waiting in long lines. I’d had to go there to get curtain hooks for my brand-new shower curtain for my newly-painted bathroom. I wonder if they do that every Saturday.

Then I did something else I promised myself I would not do on a Saturday — I went to the library. As I turned into the parking lot, there was the biggest, fluffiest bunny rabbit sitting in the landscaping. It was not like the little cotton-tails we see at the golf course. Those are much smaller and sort of beige. This was a big, dark gray handsome (and looking very well-fed!) bunny. Had to be somebody’s pet.

Not a lot of landscaping for a troupe of bunnies!

Not a lot of landscaping for a troupe of bunnies!

I parked quickly and hustled inside afraid that it might get spooked by traffic and hop into the street. This was no wild rabbit.

I went immediately to the bored-looking woman at the security desk. “Excuse me,” I said somewhat breathlessly from my quick trot across the forecourt. “Somebody’s bunny is outside in your landscaping.”

“Yes,” she said, clearly not interested in what I was telling her.

“There’s a pet rabbit out there and somebody needs to do something before it gets run over.”

“It’s our rabbit.”

“Your rabbit? Whose rabbit? The library’s rabbit?”

“Yes. We have several. They live in the landscaping. They’ve been there for years.”

Now I have been going to that library for many years and I have never seen any rabbits in the landscaping.

“Who feeds them?” I asked. The one I saw had certainly not missed any meals.

“Oh, everybody. People give them fruit and veggies and leftover bread from their lunches.”

“Sounds good,” I said hoping to coax a smile out of her — or at least some indication of interest. “Maybe I’ll go play in the landscaping.” Blank look. “I mean fruit and veggies sound good.” Continued blank look. “I mean, maybe somebody would give me … oh, never mind.”

I checked out a couple of books and scurried back outside, looking to the end of the parking lot, back toward the landscaping. No bunny in sight. I drove away slowly, trying to see between the bushes. Maybe they’ve always been there and I’ve just never noticed. Well, wherever they are, I hope they’re warm — they certainly look cared for.

Amazing the things you discover when you go out on Saturday. Maybe I’ll try it again some time.

 

 

 

 

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Don’t you just love a bargain??

After just over 25 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my bathroom needs to be re-done. Not major renovation, but I want to get the old wallpaper off and paint it something light and bright. Time for a different look. And yes, that grout around the tub should be re-done, too.

As I contemplated this, I thought “this would be a good time to upgrade that old towel rack that was probably put in when the house was built over 50 years ago.” Not just a towel rack, I decided, but this would also be a good time to put “grab bars” in the shower.                    lowes

So a couple of days ago I stopped at Lowe’s and bit the bullet. I took a look at the towel racks and settled on a brushed nickel Moen which was $27.98. For a towel rack! (Sigh.) Then I checked the bath grips. Merciful heavens — $20!! So for two bath grips and one towel bar, the bill came to just under $75. Ye cats!

The next day, the contractor who was here to give me an estimate mentioned the Habitat for Humanity ReStore which I have been to before just to see what was in stock. They get left overs that contractors have donated which can be anything from brand-new-in-the-box hardware to sinks and hardware that have been pulled out of homes which are being remodeled. Yesterday on my way to an appointment I thought “I’ve got a few minutes — why not?” so I whipped over to ReStore and would you believe, just as I walked in, right there in front, a huge display of towel bars! Moen towel bars. In brushed nickel — just like I got at Lowe’s. New. In the box. For $13.50. No way!

I grabbed a towel bar and started looking for the hand grips. Didn’t seem to be any of those although there were lots of other bathroom accessories.   restore banner

“Excuse me,” I said to the couple who was also checking out the display. “Have you seen any of the grab bars for showers?”

The man said, “I think I saw one over here,” and sure enough, at the end of the rack was one Moen grab bar. It was white but the tile in my bathroom is white and for $5.50 I was delighted.

“Here’s another one,” his wife said, pulling out a longer version also in white. Well, what the heck, I can put the longer one on one side and the shorter one by the shower curtain. That was marked $6.50. A bargain!

I hustled up to the counter and plopped down my finds. The woman started to ring them up: Towel rack, $13.50, discount 40%. Huh? Maybe it’s senior discount day. Next: Small hand grip: $5.50, discount $20%. Last: large handgrip $6.50, discount 80%. Total for all three: $13.80. Less than I paid for one handgrip at Lowe’s.

I quickly handed over a $20 bill, but … ?? The cashier saw my puzzled look and laughed. “The discounts?” I nodded.

“Here.” She showed me the price tag and pointed to a letter: A. “It’s been here since April. That gets an 80% discount.” Wow!!  “We discount things to keep them moving” (as if 1/3 of the price at Lowe’s weren’t enough!). Fine with me.

“Next time you come in,” she continued, “check the letter on the price tag and you can figure the discount. And,” she continued handing me my change and the receipt, “If you come back on Monday with this receipt, you’ll get an additional 15% off.” Good grief, they’re practically giving the stuff away! I wish I had more time to see what else was there.

Before going to my appointment, I stopped at Lowe’s and got the $73.44 refunded to my account.

Now the only problem with the whole thing is that I had not measured the towel rack before I went shopping and it turns out the one I got is too short. I’ll have to go back. I know they had the longer ones at ReStore. So I figure I can use this one for a guest towel on the wall by the door and get the longer one for my bath towel.

Hey, at this rate I can get a new towel rack for the guest bathroom, too. And maybe while I’m at it, I’ll have that room painted, and maybe the seals around the shower re-grouted and …

Or maybe I’ll just get my bathroom done as I had planned and think about the rest later.

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I can’t afford anymore free food!

del taco logoThis morning DelTaco sent me a coupon for a free shake. The last time they sent me this I had their orange shake which was dee-licious. We won’t even speculate on the calories — we’ll just leave it at dee-licious. But not this time. I deleted the coupon. I’m not going to use it.

It isn’t that I don’t want a yummy orange milk shake, but it’s free — with a $3 purchase.  That would be the Macho Taco: a whole pound of fattening (but good) beans, cheese, rice and spicy chicken. Pair that with a milk shake and you have a recipe for food coma. I know this for a fact because that’s what I did last time.  I couldn’t move off the couch — just lay there groaning. The cats liked it — not the groaning part but the fact that I was just lying there. Lop Ear snuggled down by my knees while Paddy O’Cat stretched out by my head. I vowed I would never eat again. Yeah, right.

And this isn’t my only experience with “free” fast food. Not all that long ago I earned a free Whopper from Burger King by filling out a survey. Free with the purchase of fries and a drink. That came to just under $3 and I didn’t even finish the fries. (So how come my jeans are getting tighter all the time?) I coulda just bought the Whopper for what I paid for stuff I didn’t even want. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I didn’t have the sense to wait until I got home to start eating, so dripped tomato and onion on the blouse I had just ironed. Drat!

A few weeks back DelTaco notified me of a “free hashbrowns with purchase of two breakfast tacos” promotion. I don’t think the hashbrowns were worth it  — not even for free. The breakfast tacos were okay, but I can scramble eggs with cheese and hot sauce and slap it in a tortilla at home without going to a drive-thru. Lot cheaper, too.

So I started thinking about all the “free” food that comes across my path like two-fers (which are great if there are two of you). The casinos sometimes send buffet two-fers and I love those.  The trouble is that if you don’t drop some coin into their slot machines while you’re there, after awhile they stop sending them. After all, they’re in the business of making money, not giving away food.

I’ve discovered a couple of buffets I really like, but now I’m spoiled — am I going to pay full price? No. Well, maybe — if it’s not too outrageous. The new SLS Casino (and I don’t know what that stands for and haven’t been curious enough to research it) had a two-fer and while it was very good, it was also expensive — like $32. Okay for two, too much for one. But they did have really good shrimp …

The good old Las Vegas buffet. Temptation runs rampant!

The good old Las Vegas buffet. Temptation on a platet!

The Palms Casino which originally opened it’s buffet with mid-eastern delicacies like humus, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves and a few other things, has joined the trend of more popular offerings like ribs and baked ham, enchiladas, sweet and sour chicken and a large salad bar piled high with fresh melon.

Main Street Station downtown has a good array and the price is right — about $8 for lunch and not only do they have a good salad bar, but they have a huge selection of desserts … and how did I get onto the subject of buffets, anyway?

All this talk about food is making me mighty hungry. A macho taco is starting to sound pretty good. Hmmm … I wonder if it’s too late to “un-delete” that milkshake coupon.

 

 

 

 

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Don’t cats deserve to be fed, too?

Today at lunch I was flipping through the pile of ads and saw one for C-A-L Ranch Stores. A C-A-L Ranch Store has recently opened nearby in what used to be supermarket. I went for a visit out of curiosity. It is a store that surely would be best suited for rural Nevada — I can’t imagine who in Las Vegas needs barbed wire fencing or steel poles for cattle pens, but apparently somebody does. They also sell baby chicks. Sweet.

If you need barbed wire -- or baby chicks -- this is the place to go

If you need barbed wire — or baby chicks — this is the place to go

So, I’m looking at the ad and there is a full page of food for horses (don’t they eat hay?) including food that empowers them and another one that makes their coat shiny. Huh. Perusing the ad further, I see bags of food for chickens which comes in pellets or crumbles and enhances their muscle development. Uh, is anyone else bothered by the idea of chickens with muscles?

Okay — now I see a bag of dog food for the active, adult dog, along with Milk Bone and some special dog treats.  So surely they sell cat food, too. And I’m looking …

I see rabbit food, pig food, turkey food and goat food. Oh, here’s a bag of wild bird seed, but no, nothing for cats.

The more I think of this, the more I wonder about the unfairness. (Disclosure: I am not a horse person.) What, exactly do you do with a horse? Well, you ride it, dumb-dumb. Okay, you ride it. And I guess you could use it to pull a wagon or a plow (although the pictures of the horses in the ad didn’t look like the plow-pulling type). So once a day or so you go ride the horse. Then you take it back to the stable and spend time wiping it down and brushing it. Then — whether at night or in the morning — I understand you have to “muck-out” the stall. I believe that is the equivalent of emptying the litter box. It’s bad enough emptying a litter box for a creature that weighs maybe 10 pounds, but a horse litter box? Gimme a break.

Big and stubborn and sometimes mean. Pretty, though. Horses -- they cost a lot to feed!

Big and stubborn and sometimes mean. Pretty, though. Horses — they cost a lot to feed!

In addition to the stall where the horse lives, you also have to have some land for the horse to walk around on. This is called a pasture. The horse nibbles the grass — Oh, excuse me, the horse grazes. So he’s eating the grass on the land you bought for him, and you buy him hay, too, and oats I believe.  And now there is horse food that you buy in 50 pound bags. Oh — and lookie here: Horse Treats! Yes, a 20 pound bag of horse treats. Let’s stock up on those. I’m astonished at the cost of keeping four cats in kibble — I cannot begin to imagine the cost of keeping a horse and tell me again what use they are?

I once balked at the saying “worked like a dog,” because dogs don’t work, but my friend Sandy admonished me. There are guide dogs and guard dogs and bomb-sniffing dogs and police dogs and companion dogs. Okay, so some dogs work. Do horses work? Maybe race horses, but I’m thinking you have to buy them LOTS of oats and horse treats.

Back to the ad: Pigs — okay, I can see buying food for pigs because pigs are useful and desirable and we don’t have to go too deeply into that since I am eating a ham sandwich as I’m writing this.

Goats — they give milk (well, the girl goats do) and goat hair which can be used to make clothes.

Chickens. Yum! (the eggs — the eggs.) And bunnies, Awww… of course you want to buy food for your cute little bunnies.

So, don’t cats live on farms? Don’t cats work? I call keeping the farm rodent-free work. So don’t cats deserve to be fed, too? Perhaps they are full from all the vermin, but that hardly seems fair. And what happens when they’ve freed the farm from rats and mice? Hey, guys, how about some cat food over here?  And cats have other uses besides being walking mouse-traps. When you need someone to snuggle with, forget the horses!

Tell me -- you gonna get a horse to do this?

So tell me — you’d rather be hugging a horse?

And adding insult to injury, the big banner across the page says, “We have your essentials for any kind of animal.”

I guess I’m going to have to run over there tomorrow and give them a piece of my mind. And maybe a cat, too.

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