not for the faint of heart…

I recommend a blogger newly discovered who came to my attention via “liking” one of my posts…Sterling Silva. However I do so with a caveat.

A teacup on a saucer.

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Sterling might not be everyone’s cup of tea, although he does reside in the Queen’s kingdom, I think, where everyone imbibes of that dainty stuff. He, however, fancies something a tad stronger…in drink…and subject matter. 

Whether Sterling is pulling his reader’s leg with his dark humor is something I’m not able to determine for I am far too gullible. I’m all ears…with mouth agape…when listening, or reading, a well-spun yarn. I’m caught like a deer in headlights!

If you’d like to have a go at thriller-esque writing, click on http://sterlingsilva.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/youll-be-happy-to-know-that-santa-died-well/#comment-41. I’ve asked Sterling to consider living on, so as not to deprive the world of his writing. Although I’m not necessarily a fan of all he writes…it’s his life, after all.  See if you agree with me…

…you might…or might not…it’s your call…

………hugmamma.  😉

picture of deer

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men…going to the dogs?

Gone to the Dogs

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I think my friend Sylvia and her network of Brit friends, commiserate daily on trying to gather “tall tales” that are sure to have people chuckling, and nodding their heads in agreement. Someone should pay them for their time; come to think of it, I’d like someone to pay me for mine. But no matter, we’re doing what we’re passionate about, although I’m not certain what their aching to do…except make us all laugh. Well, I’m game. Bet you are too. Here’s their latest offering.

Why Some Men Have Dogs and Not Wives

1.  The later you are, the more excited your dogs are to see you.

2.  Dogs don’t notice if you call them by another dog’s name.

3.  Dogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.

Dog sunny Day Afternoon

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4.  A dog’s parents never visit.

 

5.  Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.

6.  You never have to wait for a dog, they’re ready to go 24 hours a day.

7.  Dogs find you amusing when you’re drunk.

Kuvasz dogs

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8.  Dogs like to go hunting and fishing.

9.  A dog will not wake you up at night to ask, “If I die, would you get another dog?”

lotsa dogs

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10.  If a dog has babies, you can put an ad in the paper and give them away.

 

11.  A dog will let you put a studded collar on it without calling you a pervert.

12. If a dog smells another on you, it doesn’t get mad.

13.  Dogs like to ride in the back of a pickup truck.

Monopoly!!

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And last, but not leastIf a dog leaves, it won’t take half of your stuff.

To test this theory…

Lock your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour. Then open it and guess who’s happy to see you?

…definitely not “my cup o’ tea”…when it comes to a life partner…the guy…not the dog…hugmamma.  

 

 

“re-cal-cu-la-ting”…”re-cal-cu-la-ting”…”re-cal-cu-la-ting”

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) in Otternd...

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My friend Sylvia always provides some much needed levity. Once again she doesn’t disappoint.

Should I really join Facebook?…A good laugh for people in the over 50 group!!!
 

Senior Citizens Find That New Ulm, Minnesota, ...

Image by The U.S. National Archives via Flickr

When I bought my Blackberry, I thought about the 30-year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a cell phone that plays music, takes videos, pictures and communicates with Facebook and Twitter. I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grandkids could communicate with me in the modern way.

 
I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space. That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter,

Image representing Tweetree as depicted in Cru...

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Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world. My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag. 

 
 
The kids bought me a GPS

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

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for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then, going over to the grocery store or to the library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue Tooth (it’s red) phone, I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife and everyone within 50 yards who glared at me. I had to take my hearing aid out to use it, so I got a little loud.

 
I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside that gadget was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say “Re-calc-u-lating.” You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then if I made a right turn instead…well, it was not a good relationship. When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.
 
To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the

Image by Dave McLean (aka damclean) via Flickr

cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven’t figured out how I can lose 3 phones all at once and have to run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry basket when the phone rings.  

 
 
The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden “paper or plastic?” every time I check out just knocks me for a loop. I bought some of those reusable, cloth bags to avoid looking confused, but I never remember to take them into the store with me. Now I toss the question back when they ask. I just say “Doesn’t matter to me. I’m bi-sacksual.” Then it’s their turn to stare at me with a blank look.
 
I was recently asked if I “tweet.” I answered, “No, but I toot.”  
 
P.S. I know some of you are not over 50. I sent it to you to allow you to forward it to those who are. We seniors don’t need anymore gadgets. The TV remoteand the garage door remote are all we can handle.

Korean traffic sign

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…THE STORY OF MY LIFE…HUGMAMMA. 🙂
 

new york cynicism

New York City

Image by kaysha via Flickr

At the risk of being called a cynic by my husband, and you, I must confess to being one. Can I at least blame it on having lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade?

Just before he went to bed, I spoke with my husband about my experience with Twitter today. Half asleep since it was almost midnight, I expected his eyes to grow bigger by the minute as my tale unfolded. Instead, tiny wrinkles formed at the corners of his eyes. I’m sure he delighted in telling me that I’d made the mistake, and that the brouhaha of which I posted earlier was another one of my lapses into New York cynicism.

I’d forgotten that I’d opened my Twitter account using my husband’s email address. Why, I don’t recall and neither could he. No wonder my email address and password didn’t work. Duh?!? So there! I admit to my egregious mistake, and may Twitter and Helah Chester @helahcobtendy forgive my trespasses. Mea culpa! Mea culpa!

Thank goodness my husband and I have funny bones. We had a good laugh, albeit at my expense.

New York City

Image by kaysha via Flickr

…you can stop laughing now…hugmamma. 

tenant must pay for bed bug treatment…???

Adult bed bug, Cimex lectularius

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You read correctly. In the continuing struggle to rid her apartment of bed bugs my daughter was advised that of the $600 charged by All America Pest Control, she had to pay $400, the apartment management would pay $200. That was the proverbial “last straw” as far as we were concerned.

A cat at the Seattle Animal Shelter

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Trying to carry on with her life as best she could, my daughter attended the final performances of her ballet company, cheering on her fellow dancers from the wings. In addition to that she partook of their annual choreographic project, WIP (Works in Progress), in which she choreographed a solo upon one of the trainees. My daughter also helped with administrative details like marketing the show, coordinating photo sessions with the dancers involved, distributing advertising fliers, and making contact with the animal shelter for whom donations were being requested as entrance fee for the show. All this while battling bedbugs and sleeping with one eye open, or not going home to sleep at all. Oh yes, she still had use of only one hand. Luckily, she’s left-handed so she could still drive, and write, and eat, and bathe and dress herself, however awkwardly. Within days of honoring her final commitments, my daughter came home for some much needed R and R.

Having seen to it that All America Pest Control treated her furnishings first, albeit minimally, my daughter approved our emailing the apartment complex‘s assistant manager detailing our disdain for how the bedbug situation had been handled. To be told by her that there was no plan in place to combat the critters once discovered, that our daughter’s case was the first, was unbelievable. The problem with bedbugs had been covered by local and national broadcasts beginning a year ago. That management didn’t take preliminary steps to deal with them since infestations were being reported to occur weekly, if not daily, in hotels and other public places seemed irresponsible. A worst case, best case scenario should’ve been worked out with Orkin, rather than subjecting my daughter to being the test case, the guinea pig. But matters went from bad to worse when my daughter was told that bed bugs weren’t covered by Orkin’s treatment plan, that they were lumped in with “general insects” for which there was no coverage. And so my daughter was being charged for treatment decided upon by management, which was less than satisfactory when compared with what Orkin’s rep said her company would’ve done. And never mind that my daughtered’d already spent almost $300 in following Orkin’s instructions.

As fate would have it, our family had already decided to move my daughter into a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. Of course we were prepared to honor her lease at the old one which didn’t expire until the end of July. But with the bedbug incident occurring the beginning of May, and my daughter not occupying the premises because of the bugs, we requested the lease be terminated the end of June. We felt the situation had been mishandled from the start: no formal treatment plan in place, allowing the Orkin rep to speak for the apartment complex, and then not following through with what she’d outlined to my daughter as the course of action, effectively telling her she shouldn’t have spent the several hundred dollars she did in compliance. We also asked that management pay for treatment because of their failure to point out that erradicating bedbugs would be my daughter’s responsibility, at the time she signed the lease.

What recourse did we have if the apartment’s management didn’t honor our requests? Social media, of course. While I explained in our email that we were just seeking recompense for the wrong done my daughter and no more, I went on to say that if she was not recused from her lease a month early and if she had to pay for treatment, we would have no choice but to broadcast the injustice to the world via the internet, and consumer advocates on TV. Thankfully the outcome was predictable, but only because the regional manager realized their mistake in not having a management rep present when the Orkin woman met with my daughter. It became a case of “she said – she said.” As it turns out, Orkin’s rep denied her entire conversation with my daughter, giving a signed affidavit that she lied about everything. Can you imagine?!? Why she would put herself through hell moving everything into storage, first having to find and rent a unit at the last minute, buy and load up huge plastic bins into her car with a broken hand in a cast, and sleep on her couch, and then on an air mattress is beyond comprehension, except for the fact that she was obviously complying with the advice of an expert in erradicating bedbugs, the Orkin rep! Did I want to nail that woman’s hide to the wall? You betcha! It’s a good thing I live 3,000 miles away.

In her email response the regional manager of the apartment complex apologized profusely for the distress my daughter experienced, but faulted her with not speaking up about it earlier. My email reply explained that my daughter handled the situation in a very grown up, rational manner. It wasn’t until the treatment went from happening 3 days after her conversation with Orkin’s rep, to 2 weeks later, that my daughter became anxious. Who wouldn’t in an apartment completely torn apart, with furnishings in and out of storage, having to board her cat at the vet’s in anticipation of the bedbug treatment (costing another $200 because of the delay), sleeping on the couch and then an air mattress and on friends’ couches, all with a broken hand?!?

Having put all our family’s frustrations into writing was very therapeutic. And it got us what we asked for as a result. The regional manager bore the complete burden of fault since management didn’t accompany Orkin’s rep in her visit with my daughter. In compensation, she bore no responsibility for payment for the bedbug treatment; her account was credited with $750; and she was allowed to exit her lease whenever she chose. In response to the regional manager’s generosity, I refrained from publicly denigrating their facility and its management.

My daughter was able to secure her new apartment on May 3rd, a month earlier than originally intended. And she was allowed out of her lease on the old apartment, without penalty, and compensated for her out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the treatment of the bedbugs. Lessons learned? Before signing on the dotted line, ask if bedbug treatment is included in lease. Make sure someone from management is present when advised how to proceed by a pest control rep. Ask questions, register complaints, and seek retribution if warranted. But always remember…you get more with honey, than you do with vinegar. But if you don’t succeed, get out your cannons…and blast away!!!

One foot shown en pointe.

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the end? no way…the fun (ha!)only begins as the “saga of the bedbugs” continues…so stay tuned for the next episode…hugmamma.  😉 

welcome news…from across the “pond”

The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph), at the ...

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Sometime in the 80’s my husband and I toured Paris. It amazes me to think back to how I called long distance, 2 or 3 times, and spoke with the hotel clerk, reserving a room for a couple of nights. There was no Expedia or Travelocity to compare rates and accomodation details, or even Trip Advisor to guide me through the myriad of pros and cons about an establishment. Chock it up to youth. I didn’t know better, so I plunged ahead, uncaring if the woman at the other end of the phone was rolling her eyes at my obvious lack of sophistication or inability to speak French.

Thank goodness the next time we venture back to the City of Light, the internet will pave the way. This time there’ll be 3 adults whose needs will have to be met, including one 25-year-old who’ll want to do as Cyndi Lauper wails in her song,”Girls just want to have fu-un!”

I’ll have to enlist my French blogging buddy, My English Thoughts, for some help there. Maybe she’ll drag my daughter along to some of Paris’ hot spots, after her elderly parents totter off to bed long before midnight.

I’m hoping when our family does make it back to France’s capital of haute couture and irrepressible charm, the Parisians will be as amenable to us as they were to the author of the following article. I’ve come to love Joe Queenan‘s irreverent sense of humor, which always seems to be “on point.” He publicly admits to things about which most of us probably “bite our tongues.” I guess he’s allowed to get away with it since he writes a column for the formidable Wall Street Journal.

Needless to say when I was in Paris decades ago, the French were as reserved as I’d heard they would be. They weren’t rude, but they weren’t falling all over themselves to be nice either. Being raised to be invisible, an Asian thing, my husband and I had no trouble blending into the background wherever we went . So we were most accommodating of the Parisians then-disdain for American tourists. Hopefully this time my old-age crankiness won’t get me, and the locals, into a battle of the wills, the ill-wills, that is. They’ll have no issues with my always-calm spouse and sweet-tempered off-spring. I’m both, unless I see an injustice about to happen. Then…get out of my way! This 5’2 senior will make you rue the day God gave you 2 ears to hear what spews forth like venom from a cobra!

Okay, well…now according to Queenan, I’ll have no need for any of that. I’ll just have a wonderful, heady touristy time in “gay Paree!”

French Twist: Meet Monsieur Nice Guy

 If you’re a seasoned inhospitality buff like me, the very worst has happened: The French have stopped being mean and surly.

I started to notice this two years ago when I spent two weeks in Paris, and an equally unexpected aura of congeniality was certainly evident when I visited southern France last fall. But now the restraining walls of condescension and nastiness have utterly collapsed and a wave of warmth and courtesy have flooded in. Sacre bleu.

Plaque rue mouffetard

Image via Wikipedia

During my four-day stay in Paris last month, waiters,Paris Cafe, Paris, France concierges, museum guards and even cabdrivers all treated me with jaw-dropping affability. The ticket-taker at the Pantheon did not scream at me when I asked where Emile Zola was buried. The woman in the chocolate shop did not sneer when I asked for directions to the Rue Mouffetard (it was directly around the corner.)

The garcon in the posh restaurant did not treat me like the prototypical Ugly American when I asked what a “cocotte” was. The clerk at my two-star hotel asked if I would like to use her computer to print out my boarding pass, and went out of her way to get the broken elevator fixed so that I wouldn’t have to climb three flights of stairs on my gimpy legs.

The Eiffel tower at sunrise, taken from the Pl...

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Wherever I went–the Louvre and Orangerie, the Comedie Francaise, Honore de Balzac’s house, even the Eiffel Tower–everyone went our of their way to be charming and helpful. For a minute there I thought I was at Epcot.

What happened? What triggered this explosion of courtesy and warmth? Well, for starters, the recession, which would motivate even the most chauvinistic French to tone it down a notch when dealing with tourists. But France has had recessions before, and that never took the edge off those legendary brusque, haughty people.

No, my suspicion is that much of the coarseness and incivility toward foreigners–and particularly toward Americans–stemmed from embarrassment about having collaborated with the Nazis. Anti-americanism was practically an official state policy under Charles de Gaulle, but now the war is no longer an issue. Most of the World War II generation has died out and been replaced by young people who do not have a chip on their shoulder.

Street market in nearby Rue Mouffetard

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Friendly young people. Helpful young people. I know this will come as a shock to those who have not visited France for a while, but the French are now friendlier than the Italians, than the Irish, than the girls who greet you at Hooters. This unanticipated onslaught of goodwill totally floored me.

As a globe-trotting malingerer, I have always enjoyed returning from a jaunt abroad with fresh support for popular American stereotypes about foreigners. Yes, Belgium really is boring. Yes, the Swedes really are laconic. Yes, the Scots really do like a dram or two.

But now these stereotypes are collapsing like wisps of straw. Though most Americans still associate England with bad food–fish and chips, bangers and mash–the truth is that dining out in London is now an absolute joy, with top-flight restaurants everywhere. You can get a good meal even in the provinces, which was certainly not the case before Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair dragged the U.K. into the modern world. So there goes another beloved, hoary stereotype.

As a world-class spoilsport and curmudgeon, I now have less and less anecdotal material to fall back on when I want to blast another society. Luckily, when last I checked, the Germans were still arrogant, the Italians were still incompetent, and the Canadians were still reliably unexciting.

Still, if I go to Berlin this fall and find out that the Germans are no longer bossy and overbearing, I’m going to throw in the towel and turn into an American who doesn’t overeat, overspend or take the first five minutes of every conversation trying to figure out how much everybody else in the room paid for their house. I’m warning you frogs, you Teutons, you Russkies: Two can play this game. Columnist's name

the guy makes me laugh…even though much of what he says is not meant to be funny…hugmamma.

is she talkin’ about me?

My friend Mary came by with another piece of senior humor. Sorry young ‘uns, sometimes we elderly citizens have to step “outside the box” for a belly laugh, or two.

MY LIVING WILL: 

Last night, my family stopped by and were sitting in the living room… I said to them, ‘I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.’

They got up, unplugged the Computer, and threw out my wine.

They are SO on my shit list …

 

…well, maybe not a belly laugh…but at least a toothless grin…hugmamma.