There’s a sucker born every minute.

01-19-17

Well, I thought I’d preface this post by saying I was continuing with the circus theme by using this headline. But first, I Googled to see if I had correctly used P.T. Barnum’s quote, only to find out that he never uttered those words, but the quote has been merely attributed to him for well over a century.

I’m still using the headline as it fits the subject … and yours truly.

Earlier in the week, I stopped at Meijer for a few groceries and picked up a bag of peanuts to feed to the squirrels at Council Point Park, now that I have resumed walking there.

I stopped myself from loading up on several bags of peanuts because I’m a realist – after all, we live in Michigan and this spate of nice weather is not going to last forever. There will be many more days to walk at the Park down the road, once Winter has passed.

Because I am not only a nature lover, but an animal lover as well, I just couldn’t resist those squirrels on the Park’s perimeter path bounding over to greet me, or scrambling to line up at my heels, tagging along like a faithful puppy dog, hoping that I’d acknowledge their presence with a peanut or two.

Besides tagging along behind me, they love dashing in front, or scrambling over by my feet, sometimes begging by raising up on their haunches. Even a flick of the tail, and those plaintive eyes just do me in.  You, too, would succumb to such animal adoration.

I’m such a soft touch, and, I admit – yes, they give me the warm fuzzies, because it’s like having a pet, without all the emotional ties that go into being a perfect pet parent.

So, today as I set out on my walk, a small Ziploc bag of unsalted peanuts stuffed into my coat pocket, I said a silent prayer that the squirrels did not hear that it was “National Popcorn Day” and perhaps think I’d let them down by not proffering those puffed treats to them instead of peanuts in the shell.

I got one entire asphalt loop walked, added 3 ½ miles to my total miles walked, made a few more furry friends in the process, plus went home with a silly smile on my face.

Yup, there IS a sucker born every minute.

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Tuesday Musings.

close up planner page

As I sit here writing this post, I am waiting for my boss Robb’s plane to touch down at Detroit Metro. He will then scurry from his seat and hit the ground running, coat tails flying, while debating whether to call me for messages, or check out any e-mails he might have missed in his four-hour flight.  He shipped his bags home yesterday via UPS due to the iffy weather at Dallas, so he is good to go after deplaning.  Does he return to the office tonight for the first time in 2017, or can his appearance wait until tomorrow? We shall see.

Unlike some of his vacations, we’ve been lucky this past few weeks, since there were only a few “high grounders” which we quickly dispensed with, so Robb could return to those blue Caribbean waves, or his hammock slung between the palm trees, in short order. As for me, I’ve just been sitting here at the laptop being the virtual watchdog.

Yup, it was smooth sailing, except there was one pesky incident for me … no, not the weather, though I bemoaned it enough. I figured two weeks would garner more walks than I actually got accomplished, due to brutal cold, ice, rain, wind, fog, or that brief snowstorm just a week ago today.

On January 3rd, that very morning he jetted off to paradise, I returned from a walk at Council Point Park, and settled myself at the table, fired up the laptop and prepared to remote in to work to check on “things”.

But, instead of the usual blue modern architecture desktop display, I got a big message in the middle of the screen that said “installing device driver software” … so, what did that mean and I’ve never seen THAT message before!

But, the icon sat there and wouldn’t go away … well great … just great. The message remained stuck, smack in the middle of the screen, and after those drivers did their dirty work, my desktop display turned black and I lost my ability to connect to the internet.

I did a hard shutdown, rebooted the laptop, and returned, fingers crossed, that this screen and laptop behavior was not the new normal. But it was.  So, I reverted the computer to the day before, then slowly the laptop returned to its “former self” giving me some comfort, despite that black screen.

But wait …

There were many more obstacles to deal with and hoops to jump through before this ordeal was over.

I got a series of pop-ups with messages – no – warnings, from Microsoft about using fraudulent software. I rolled my eyes, and, in my disgust with the situation, I spat out a few choice words at Microsoft – after all, my laptop was genuine when they insisted on foisting Windows 10 on me last Spring!

The pop-up messages requested I input my product license key info at a suggested link to activate my software and legitimatize it once again.

I dug out and reviewed my Ziploc packet of info received with the laptop, and, much to my surprise, I never got any product key information, merely the boot/driver disks for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Hmmmmmmm.

Well, everything seemed to be working fine, except for the black desktop display with its ominous message in the bottom right-hand corner that stated: “this copy of Windows is not genuine” – gulp.

Additionally, those constant pesky pop-ups warned me that “you may be a victim of software counterfeiting”. These messages continued through the first week of the new year, but it still did not deter me from using the laptop, until Microsoft refused to permit my Windows updates without me validating my operating system as genuine Microsoft Windows.

Sigh.

Well, I decided then it was time for a consult with Hewlett Packard to procure the product license key.

But, unfortunately … HP wanted none of that problem – “it was a Microsoft issue” they said.

So, with much trepidation, I called Microsoft customer service and got an excellent tech who tried her best to fix the license info for me. Stephanie said this was a common consumer problem, not unique to me, because no product license key is given anymore with a new laptop.  She took control of my computer and with a series of keystrokes, she verified the laptop’s product and serial number info, and said it was factory-installed software, so I would have to pay $40.00 for a partial product key.

“You’re kidding!” was all I could say.

So, I gave her my credit card info so she could activate the license once again. But the transaction could not go through, as my bank electronically rejected it by saying it was not an “authentic purchase” … the tech, who was very patient, told me to square it with the bank, and she would call me back shortly.  Not to be deterred, I called the bank, who found the story incredulous, and said there was nothing deterring the transaction going through.

Stephanie called back, we tried again – no go. She then received permission from her supervisor to do the “fix” for free since I work from home and needed it for business purposes.

A few technical glitches and more coding and configuration, and some flying fingers by the tech, yielded the desired effect some two hours after the second phone call. We rebooted three times and got rid of the funky fraudulent messages, restoring my comfort zone, and, with me feeling like I was no longer committing a criminal act.

Okay, Bill Gates … I’m cool with Microsoft again, but you made me feel so dirty!

During this weeklong debacle, I was ready to fulfill my childhood dream of running away and joining the circus.

Of course, running away from your problems doesn’t solve anything, and, of course, joining the circus isn’t even an option anymore.

I was astounded to wake up Sunday morning and hear that the Greatest Show on Earth was folding up forever later this year.

Some of my fondest memories are going to see the circus when it was in town. I’d sit in between my parents, my cone of sticky candy floss momentarily forgotten, as I was mesmerized by the three rings of stupendous acts, and I was star struck by the animals and entertainers.  In later years, my parents would tell me I declared early on that “when “I grow up” I would join the circus.  They never discouraged me, but, I guess I either never grew up, or decided that a legal secretary was a safer occupation, and now that option to be a circus employee is closed forever … of course there is always the Shrine Circus.

As a tot, Barnum & Bailey was not just about the big top, but part of my snacks as well. Their tasty animal crackers filled up a brightly colored small box which was festooned with circus animals and I toted that snack cracker box around by clutching the pale pink string handle.

In between trips to the real circus with my folks, I stationed myself in front of the T.V. every Friday night to view ringmaster Don Ameche’s weekly spotlight on various circus performances. Plus, in later years, there were annual trips by our Brownies, Girl Guides or Pioneer Girls troops for a weekend matinee circus performance.

So, that circus fascination never faded when it came to those daring performers or the animals. Perhaps I even uttered Dorothy’s famous line “lions and tigers and bears – oh my!” while watching the King of the Jungle with his handler, or the tigers leaping through a ring of fire, or, even those silly brown bears riding a bicycle or dancing with one another.

I’m glad I was lucky enough to enjoy the circus so often – too bad many youngsters won’t have those same cherished childhood memories, unless they are lucky enough to have the Shrine Circus come to their locale.

As I close this post, I am reminded once again of simpler times and how the days, no – the years – are flying by much too quickly and the world is spinning way too fast for this old gal.

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Mother Nature keeps you on your toes sometimes.

01-15-16

I was feeling lucky to have wended my way down to Council Point Park, and along the trail, for the second day in a row in mid-January. The lack of black ice on the sidewalks I traversed, or even the Park path, made for an uneventful addition of four miles each day, marking my total miles at 24 in this young year.

At the Park, I wasn’t the only one braving windchills in the teens. Todd, the weekend jogger, was suited up in multiple layers and a young man tried to reel his black hound in, after he discovered a squirrel and took off at a fast clip, leaving his poor master loping behind him.  There was a pair of walkers who shuffled along, trying to converse with frozen lips, with their heads bent down against the cold wind.

Yesterday I packed a few peanut butter sammies for my squirrel pals, but, clearly those critters are too well fed, judging from their girth and a gait that sometimes could be described as a waddle. Several of them came up to me, took a hesitant sniff at the offerings, then kept on going.  Hmmmm.  I said “suit yourself” and then I, too, walked away.  Of course, I couldn’t resist looking back to see if they were at least sampling the sandwiches, or, alternatively getting a bad attitude since it was not peanuts in the shell.  After a glance back, or two … or three, I kept walking, so I don’t know the eventual status, but those crusty hunks of peanut goodness were not on the trail this morning, so I guess they used their good judgment in the end.

The squirrels are not the only critters at the Park who enjoy the peanuts in the shell that get tossed their way by kindly souls that reap smiles and self-satisfaction from feeding the Park “wildlife”. The blue jays similarly enjoy those peanuts, and, just like in your own neighborhood, they will swoop down from a high branch when they see peanuts suddenly scattered on the ground.

This morning, a blue jay streaked out of the sky after a young man tossed a couple of peanuts onto the asphalt, shortly before I got to that location. As I approached the scene, I noticed the squirrel had already pilfered one “to go” and came scampering back for his second helping.  But, Mr. Squirrel was met by Mr. Blue Jay who angrily screeched at him, then planted his two delicate feet onto the ground, with his sharp beak clamped down on that peanut, which he believed was rightfully his.  I stopped to watch this brief interplay, thinking the squirrel would retreat when he saw that the blue jay meant business.  Instead, he stood there with a dumbfounded look, and the blue jay quickly took flight, with the prized peanut.

“You win some, you lose some” I told the squirrel as I walked on by.

After my little respite at the Park, I came home to find my boss had phoned me while I was out. He had planned to call yesterday to tell me how his road trip from Garden Grove, California to Santa Fe, New Mexico was going, but I never got a call, or an e-mail.  I figured he was busy driving, sightseeing and enjoying himself, so he forgot about me.

He called later to tell me that, after driving 600 miles on Saturday, last night he had encountered horrible weather in northern Arizona. There were snowsqualls and whiteout conditions on the highway and it was treacherous driving.  Robb said it was a desolate area, and he had no radio, cellphone or laptop signal.  I encouraged him to forego the last leg of this trip, which he had planned for R&R and to see the sights of New Mexico, a state he had never before visited, and I’d make some alternate arrangements for him, but he elected to “tough it out” instead.

Just like the squirrel and the jay, this time the tables are turned … the jay got the prize at the Park, and, in the long run, who knew that the better weather would turn out to be Southeast Michigan and not the Southwest United States?

[Image by Yinanchen at Unsplash]

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Local water fowl may need fur coats, and … it’s Friday the 13th.

01-13-17a

Well, my boss continues to be tucked away in places much warmer and sunnier than Southeast Michigan. He is now on business in Garden Grove, California, then on to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Meanwhile, his trusty sidekick is still holding down the fort virtually and giving him daily weather reports on what he is missing here in the Mitten State.

Today I changed up my recent morning routine, as I took the car for a spin and myself for a walk. Tuesday was snowy, Wednesday we had black ice, and yesterday, I got as far as the garage when the sky suddenly opened up and I got soaked in the space of about five minutes.

So, I’m no quitter and tried it again this morning, but, at least today was somewhat sunny, but much colder than Thursday.

Have you noticed the days are getting longer? I watched the sun put in an early, albeit pale, appearance, then it was good to see the blue sky and a few more rays of sunshine, rather than the gray and gloomy skies we’ve had lately.  It put me in a better frame of mind and made me realize that yes, we are inching toward Spring … very slowly mind you, but creeping along nonetheless.

As it was clear and dry, a walk was in order, requiring only warm clothes and a lucky rabbit’s foot since it was, after all, Friday the 13th.  I was constantly eyeballing the concrete for black ice, while being mindful not to step on any cracks or beneath any ladders.  No black cats were out and about – whew!

My trip wasn’t quite three miles today. I walked on Emmons Boulevard, and, not to be a wimp, but it got very cold, and, with a wind chill of about ten degrees, I passed over the footbridge, walked a block or so in Wyandotte, then turned around and quickly headed home.

I glanced at the Ecorse Creek as I crossed over the footbridge and the past few days of mild weather has kept the murky water flowing. Thus, the mallards were flocking there to nibble on the reeds near the creek banks, dive for grub and dunk their heads into the chilly water.  I watched several ducks as they preened and distributed the oil through their feathers to waterproof them, adding another layer of insulation from the cold.  I know my down coat is warm thanks to fowl feathers, but I can’t imagine how feathers keep those same fowl warm in these brutal temps.  There were some areas where a light skim of ice was present on the water’s surface, but not enough to deter the ducks from paddling around right beneath where I stood on the footbridge.

Today is Friday the 13th.  Are you superstitious?  There seemed to be less of the usual media chatter surrounding one of the unluckiest days of the years.  Perhaps the auto show charity preview tonight, and all its glitz and glamor, has taken precedence over scary occurrences … the next Friday the 13th will be in October, which is fitting, as it falls within the month we celebrate Halloween.

[Image by J-Lloa at Pixabay]

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Cold hands, warm memories.

01-09-16

The daily trudge managed to morph into a real walk this morning.

After five days of traipsing outside just to run the car, and/or deal with the snow, I located some even warmer gear, got myself into gear and hit the road.

Yes, I did intend to walk the last two days, but it was just too brutally cold.

So, this morning, I took the car for a little spin and then reserved some “me time” to walk. I’m still monitoring my boss’ phone and e-mail messages while he’s on vacation, so I’m keeping to a near-regular work schedule.

I decided just to head down the Boulevard today since I was uncertain if I’d make it all the way to Council Point Park. Besides, if the Park was my intended destination, and I didn’t make it, I’d be stuck finishing off those promised peanut butter sandwiches I’d packed as a snack for the squirrels.

Along the way I noticed that most of the Christmas décor is gone, and, in its place, are the Valentine’s Day decorations. Now, everything is red and pink, hearts and flowers and love, love, love.  I’ll concede that a respectable amount of time has passed for me not to tsk-tsk about rushing the holidays along.  As to the Christmas holiday décor still in place, many of the fresh evergreen wreaths and garlands were still perky – well, I guess you’d be perky too, if you were left out 100% of the time in these frigid temps.

During those really cold days, my down-filled coat has done its job to keep me warm, but, once again the frozen-feeling fingers were problematic, despite the temps seeming almost tropical after the past four or five days. I had even donned three sets of gloves to thwart the cold, but, I must dig some more in the cedar closet to locate my polar-fleece mittens from my bus-riding days.

I often feel a wave of nostalgia when my mail carrier is on her route on the days when we are in the deep freeze. Why?  Jenny wears a snow suit in the frigid weather, so I usually hear her walking near my house, before I actually see her.  Do you remember how your mom dressed you in a snowsuit and shoved you out the door to play in the snow when you were knee high to a grasshopper?  First, she ensured you went to the bathroom before you were zipped into your snowsuit.  Once you were stuffed into that gear, while Mom gathered your woolens and those horrid galoshes with the big buckles, you wandered around the house in an outfit that made you feel immobile at times.  Your arms and legs, encased in that puffy and shiny fabric, made a loud swishing noise when you walked, but, now … shut your eyes and recall shuffling your socked feet on the rug, creating those tiny sparks as you walked.  It was fun at that time, and, after you were suited up, you would stay warm and dry no matter how uncomfortable you felt, while you built snow forts and snowmen with your buddies.

No snow forts or snow men built today by me – I was just happy to get three miles walked and did them fairly quickly. I kept glancing at the sky, because, though our snowfall is not expected until later this evening, those dark and brooding clouds sure looked like a snow sky.

Once home and in the house, my eyeglasses steamed up and stayed like that as I began to shed layer after layer of clothing. But, no one sat me down with a steaming mug of hot chocolate paired with my favorite homemade cookies, and asked if I had fun with my friends, but, once those glasses finally cleared, in the mirror I could see two rosy cheeks, and, … if I closed my eyes tightly, I could hear Mom commenting on those rosy cheeks, just like she did all those years ago.

Who says frosty days can’t elicit warm and fuzzy memories?

[Image from Terri C at Pixabay]

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Thinking warm thoughts …

01-06-17

Well, 2017 started out great for walking and then quickly went downhill.

I skipped Wednesday’s walk thinking “what’s one day?” … after all, the wind was gusting at 35 mph, and, when I took the car for a spin, I saw way too many stoplights wiggling in the wind at each intersection where I was forced to stop for the light. Walking to and from the garage took a little effort, even for me at 5 feet nine inches tall and I’m no featherweight.

Then, yesterday there was a bit of snow needing my attention and oh, it was so brutally cold. I needed no encouragement to table the walk, telling myself “hey, it’s only the 5th day of the first month of the year, but maybe it’s slippery and just a little too cold” (of course I didn’t want to own up to this lame excuse, having stated a handful of days ago that mere cold would not stop this walker in her tracks, or something to that effect).

This morning, I went out with an attitude: I will go for a walk today.  Yes, that’s the spirit.  But twenty minutes later, after sweeping still another dusting of snow, then running the car, my fingers were numb.   “I’ll just warm my hands up a little in the house and come back out and walk” was my next course of action,  but, once inside, with the heat enveloping me and making me feel cozy in the cold cellarway, I stayed put.

Tomorrow, we’ll get back on track again – there will be no excuses and no frozen digits.

While I was trudging back inside, bemoaning my frozen fingertips, with my feet encased in warm woolen socks inside my heavy walking shoes, my boss was sinking his tootsies in the sand in Puerto Rico. He has already sent some beach pics where he is standing barefoot, dwarfed by a tall palm tree and basking in the 83 degree sunshine.

Bliss for Puerto Rico’s tropical weather for Robb.

Boo hiss for Michigan’s wintry weather for me … and you too, of course.

So, I’ll just have to be content to think warm thoughts, slick my lips with my Blistex Fruit Smoothies “Triple Tropical” lip balm, with the scent of fresh pineapple and melon wafting near my nostrils that help conjure up warm images on this very cold day.

An appropriate quote for this post: Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were.  But without it we go nowhere. ~Carl Sagan

 

[Image from Pixabay]

 

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Tuesday Musings.

close up planner page

It’s been a successful first three days of the new year so far.

I got in three walks, despite thinking this morning would be a washout since it was pouring when the alarm went off.

And, I’m still organizing clutter with great gusto and getting re-acquainted with my “stuff” as part of my resolution to be more orderly.

Well, first things first.

For 2017, I also resolved not to listen to the weatherman’s forecast to plan whether I’ll walk or do errands, but to look outside first. You cannot believe how many times, based on a morning forecast or prediction the day before, I altered my plans.  No more!  It was soggy and there were mud puddles galore, but I got my four miles in, making that twelve miles walked so far in this young year.

It was Day #3 of walking at Council Point Park. I’ve now exhausted my supply of peanuts – it was only a small bag that I bought in late Fall for one squirrel on the Boulevard.  So, today when my Park squirrel came to visit, with his friends close on his heels, I knew I was in trouble.  I tossed the remaining four peanuts to the lead squirrel and the rest were out of luck.  But, he shared with his pals, then all four persisted in following me around the perimeter path.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, (oops – old habits refuse to die), I’ll pack peanut butter sandwiches for all of them – that sticky goodness will keep ‘em happy for awhile.

As I mentioned above, over the long holiday weekend I began tackling the clutter, a/k/a the cupboards, closets and drawers. One of my favorite hobbies used to be shopping.  I found items I hadn’t seen in years, mostly clothes and accessories that have been tucked away since I quit working on site.  The basement contains even more stuff , but I won’t peruse  those clothes racks, cabinets and cedar closet just yet.

The closets held a treasure trove of clothes from when I got dressed up to go to work, as opposed to just wearing shorts and a t-shirt or a sweat suit. I know the pant suits will still fit, but, as I flipped through pencil-slim skirt suits, form-fitting Capri pants and then checked out high-heeled pumps and sandals – well, maybe those days are gone for good.  I even slipped on a pair of soft leather loafers, but years of  wearing soft moccasins all day in the house, plus wide walking shoes made even those flat-heeled loafers not doable.  Although the walking regimen has been great exercise and provides fodder for a blog, it has created muscular thighs, so, sadly I held those capris up in the air and admitted “not in this lifetime” to myself.  Secretarial spread likely has decimated those pencil-slim skirts as well.

Luckily, before I got too depressed over my once-favorite clothes, I spotted a comfy outfit ordered from Coldwater Creek about a decade ago. When Robb and I left the law firm and went out on our own, we had no dress code at our office.  So, I proceeded to expand my wardrobe to include capris, long skirts with dress boots, and other items, like a cozy Sherpa pullover and flannel pants set.  I remember trying it on and my mom said they looked like lounging pajamas, so I put them away for my retirement years.

This morning, I decided to try them on and the sweater sleeves and pant legs were way too long, a rare find for me at 5 feet, 9 inches tall, unless I buy a tall size.

So, while I wondered if they were sized for talls, or I shrunk in stature during the past decade, I flipped up the label to find the size, and found the care instructions on the label from the manufacturer named “Got Keys” … the label made me smile and I decided it was a “Musings-worthy” share for today’s blog post:

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For best results: Machine wash cold.  Tumble dry low.  Never iron design.

For worst results: Drag thru puddle behind car.  Blow dry on roof rack.

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