Cul-de-sac Chronicles

Password Hell

computer-frustrationCan you believe it? I’m experiencing a spate of insomnia attacks (if  you can call “two” a spate). I’ve slept like a baby for months, even laughing in my sleep, but the last two nights have found me in here perusing blogs, paying bills, checking emails.

A little something is bothering me, something that might not even happen, probably won’t happen, something I shouldn’t give energy to, but I’ve never figured out how we decide what to worry about or how to stop. It’s a mystery to me. Maybe if I was more evolved I could learn to put the dam up and stop the flow. I’ll simmer down in a day or two.

Do you remember that damned Heart Bleed bug that caused all the bustling excitement back in April? Remember how we had to change a lot of our passwords? Just for good measure, I changed my bank password during that time. Overly cautious. That’s me. In the middle of my insomnia attack on Sunday night, in the wee hours of the morning, I signed on with the new password, paid a few bills and logged out. No problem. Then I decided I wanted to change the password AGAIN… to something I could actually remember. It was just to complicated.  I needed something memorable yet subtle, something clever yet uncomplicated, tricky yet streamline. After some brainstorming, I eventually came up with the perfect password – wet yet warm and fuzzy.

So I signed back in. Not so fast. I tried to sign back in. I tried twice and it rejected me, scolded me, saying that I was using an incorrect password. I knew I would be locked out after the third attempt, so I dug up my password from the secret password hiding place (a post-it note beside the computer), and carefully keyed in the password. I’m absolutely positive I typed in the correct password. Like a shunned lover, my bank locked me out in the dark without my coat or leopard skin stilettos.ComputerFrustrations

I filled in all the info to get a new password, but it told me that I was giving incorrect information. I had my ATM card in my hand. I was looking at the number as I keyed it in, but the site kept telling me I didn’t have the right number. I swear, in a Jersey accent, it said, “Who you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

I finally gave up and called the number. An automated, mechanical voice gave me a temporary password, and I eventually gained access and changed my new password to something catchy but indecipherable. So that’s what I did Sunday night with my insomnia time. I have been known to do more productive things with that time, but I was bent on frustrating myself for some reason.

I don’t usually keep my password to the kingdom beside the computer, but I couldn’t remember the doggone thing. So now I’m safe. By the way, my new password is OodlesOfN0odle$. I’ll give you the username tomorrow.




Lemonade for Sale in the Cul-de-sac

IMG_7282Some of us sold lemonade in the cul-de-sac this weekend. H and my son moved an old library/sofa table outside, and I covered it with Brand’s Mickey Mouse bedspread from when he was a toddler. That means it’s about 38-years-old. Let’s not discuss why it would still be in the linen closet. I cannot believe it survived all the many purges over the past year or two. The best I can come up with is that Mickey rules, and it makes a good picnic/beach blanket.

After expenditures of $13.00 in supplies: lemonade, cups, cookies, etc., the profit was $3.00. They had so much fun, though. Perfect weather made it a perfect day to spend in dappled shade, watching the kids do all the work and listening to tall tales from my grandson. He scooted over to my lawn chair in between sales and imparted the wildest stories. He described the strangest, most unlikely creatures to me. Some of them had five legs and were a mile long and lived in the desert. Others had huge, round mouths with razor-sharp teeth and dorsal fens as tall as a pine tree. Before each narration, he would say, “Nona, do you believe in…” And then the craziest monologue would begin. He always described the animal or monster in detail, the habitat in which this creature lived and what its potential harm could be. Then he would ask me again if I believed in it. I always told him the same thing. “I don’t know for sure, but anything is possible.” When he tired of this, he moved on to aliens and megalodons and ghost. Can you see a pattern here?

Entertaining the little one, my daughter-in-law drew some of the Frozen characters on the driveway with chalk.IMG_7342~IMG_7346~

Don’t let this one’s big eyes fool you, she’s known by some as Miss Bossypants McGruderkins. IMG_7295We had a great time and then poured ourselves into bed, exhausted and satisfied.

The only thing to mar the weekend was the news of a friend’s death on Friday night. She was not a close, close friend, but she was special. She was only in her fifties. When I lived at Dad’s she would show up with clam chowder or cookies or crab dip. People who become shut-ins are often forgotten by the outside world.  She came in and visited for a bit with Dad and went on her way.   We never seem to forget a kindness that comes when we really need it, do we? She was my kindness when I needed it. A fresh spirit with the sweet face of a sprite, she shared her light with those whose light was fading. I’ve often wondered if people like her, those who share their joy for life, realize how much they touch others.

Oopsie Daisy!

IMG_7259Look what happened at the end of my driveway today…

that is, if you can see through my dirty windows. I don’t really think you can see the dirt, but trust me.IMG_7263

That’s my neighbor down there on the cell phone. He was working in his yard when the kid – about sixteen – rolled his four-wheeler.

His name is Bo (as in the White House dog), and he is married to the lovely Bee. You got it… Bee & Bo. It’s a little too cute, but what can you do when you’re a girl named Bee and you “fall” for a guy named Bo who has a steady job? Bee and Bo are about our age, so it’s been a while since the “falling” was done.

We were leaving to run by the grocery store and our farmer’s stand. I spent the morning making cheesecake, chicken salad, egg salad and a macaroni bake thingie with a tomato based sauce (really just spaghetti in a casserole) because the Grand Trio is coming for the weekend.

We hit the garage door opener and there they were… at the end of our driveway. The kid was hurt but not too bad. Bo was on the phone with 911, trying to get some help.

H went out to see if he could help in any way. I went upstairs and took photos. Someone has to keep abreast of the goings-on in the Cul-de-sac for you guys.

They managed to get the four wheeler upright again.


The EMTs arrived…

… then the sherif.

 I don’t understand why the kid’s parents didn’t show up. Isn’t that strange? H and Bo and the kid were out there a long time before the “authorities showed up. They finally got everything squared away and all ended okay. I think the boy will be fine. He told H that the wheel just grabbed and he went over.IMG_7278

Conversation with H

Bella ~ Your hearing is getting worse.

H~ No it isn’t.

Bella ~ Remember that night when I mentioned how beautiful the night sounds were and you couldn’t hear them?

H ~ Yes, but I heard them last night.

Bella ~ Have you ever considered getting a hearing aid?

H ~ No.

Bella ~ Huh?

H ~ No.

Bella ~ Huh?

H ~ Have you ever considered a hearing aid?

By the way, do you say oopsie daisy or whoopsie daisy? Or maybe you don’t say it at all. I grew up saying oopsie daisy, but when Hugh Grant couldn’t get over the fence in Notting Hill, he said, “Whoopsie Daisy” to Julia Roberts. Or is it woopsa daisy. I just don’t know. It’s whoopsy daisy in the Urban Dictionary. Google has it every single way. Okay, that’s enough of that.

I’m gonna get a dog and name it BeeBo.

Happy Birthday, Cul-de-sac!

5th_birthday_cakeI can’t believe it’s been five years and 739 posts since I gave birth to this baby. Where does the time go? Toddlerhood is a thing of the past. We’re headed off to kindergarten in the fall.

My first post was entitled Transition. I could write a post today with the same title. Aren’t we always in transition? After living with Dad for three years, July 16, 2009 found us preparing to move back to the cul-de-sac. We had already talked with my brother and found a live-in caregiver. H was still working part-time, but he packed up the car and made periodic weekend trips back to our house. On the day we moved into Dad’s, I had my clothes, toiletries and computer. I remember the first thing H did was set up the computer because he knew it would make me more comfortable, that my sanity depended on writing everyday.

Over the years, we had slowly moved more clothing and other little things that made life more comfortable to Dad’s. During those years, I learned how well we humans can get along with few extras, but we still had more to move back home than I realized.

The good thing about having a blog or diary is the record it keeps for us. We tend to paint the past with the available colors we have in our toolbox at the time. Sometimes we rosy it up, and other times we make it darker than it really was. The thing that most surprises me is how inaccurate my memory is about when things happened. I can’t ever get it right. I usually think less time has passed than actually has. I think something I did five years ago happened two years ago. That much time simply could not have passed. Stop! Stop! My life is flowing through the hourglass at warp speed.

I’m glad I have a blog, glad I recorded a few things. I’ve been a fool a couple of times and made mistakes galore (wish I’d listened when Mrs. Gay tried to tell me about those silly commas and such). I’ve second guessed myself about how much to tell and how I must sound to others, but in the end, I think we blog because we want to connect, and don’t we do that well? The bonus is the support you get from readers and the things you learn from reading their blogs. I’ve learned so much from you guys.

And to all you lurkers, I see you and I’m glad you’re here.

Reach for the Funny!

We took the iMac to a Mac Genius. He fixed all the bumps and bruises. All but a few of my photos were retrieved, and everything is backed up, and it will continue to be backed up every time anything changes. I will never be without backup again. I feel like a Flying Wollenda who has just been told he’ll be performing with a net from now on. Maybe not. Those guys probably liked flying without a net, but we all know what happened there.

During Our Visit to the ER

There are shared bathrooms between every two examining rooms in the ER. You go in, lock the door to the adjacent room so no one walks in on you, do your business, wash your hands, unlock the door to the adjacent room so your next-door neighbor can now use the facilities at will and return – without incident – to their own room. It’s a simple concept.

So I had to pee. Afraid that I might be lightheaded, H helped me get up, and he opened the bathroom door for me. A female voice began gasping in shock, “No sir! No sir! No sir!”

H had opened the door on a very large woman in the middle of her constitutional. She was horrified, but poor H. After getting an eyeful, he mumbled, “Oh, sorry. So sorry.” and quickly closed the door. It was one of those moments when reality takes a second to settle down on you, but when it does, you quickly make the transition from horror to hysteria. We stood there gulping and gasping and crying with laughter, and trying our best to be quiet because all that separated us was a – not soundproof – door.

We waited until we heard her open and close the door to her room. H opened the door again and she screamed AGAIN, “No sir! No sir! No sir!” H, now almost prostrate with embarrassment, said “I’m so sorry. Really. So sorry.” When he closed the door, we were almost paralyzed with laughter. I could have fainted from trying to keep it in.

I don’t care what happens in life, how horrible it is, there is always something funny, sometimes downright hysterical. Always. Reach for the funny, guys.





Fall Down Go Boom!

My Mac crashed this morning. The iPhoto refused to launch a few weeks ago, and I’ve been taking it to the Mac Store ever since… in my mind only. I’m not usually such a procrastinator, but I’ve become lax about things lately. I now turn a blind eye to things I never would have allowed to slide before. Well, look at me now. I’ve gone and made a mess.

This is only one more example of how my approach to things has changed. I can’t seem to gather up enough gumption to take care of my business anymore,  not the way I used to, anyway. And I don’t feel all that bad about it, but I am kind of annoyed with myself for not getting myself and my computer down to the Mac Store immediately. I hope they can retrieve my photos. Some have been backed up and some have not.

You know how some people get grumpier as they get older and some get sweeter? I think I’m going to become less reliable but more lovable. :)

Everything is black, the entire screen. With only the time floating around the monitor. Time.


Wherein My Uneventful July 4th Weekend Turns Eventful

heart-1I’m at home this morning and feeling well.

Last night, we were settling down for a quiet evening when I started experiencing tightness in the chest area, and pressure, and irregular palpitations. I became breathless, and it was a considerable struggle to do anything, even dress myself.

Meanwhile, H was on the phone and engrossed in conversation with my son. When we bought the new car, we gave them the old one. H told them to return the tags to us so we could turn them in to DMV, but they forgot to bring them on their first visit after getting the car registered in MD. In late May, we received a letter from DMV, informing us that we had to show proof of liability insurance on the old car or prove that we no longer owned it. The kids brought the plates on their next visit, and H returned them to DMV. Swish, swish. All done! Right?

Not so fast.

We received another letter from DMV on Saturday. It informed us that our driver’s licenses will be revoked on July 31 if we don’t produce proof that we no longer own the vehicle. They are laboring under the incorrect impression that we still have the tags and the car. The IRS should consider taking intimidation lessons from DMV? I swear. It’s enough to give you heart palpitations. Speaking of which…

When H got off the phone (surely, I was approaching cardiac arrest by now), I told him I needed to go to the hospital. So, off we went to ER. You immediately go to the front of the line if it’s heart related, which I’m cool with. We found out immediately that my heart was no longer in sinus rhythm. They ran tests to make sure that I hadn’t had a heart attack and that there was no damage to my heart. Eventually, the chest pressure subsided and my heart even went back into sinus rhythm. They kept me for about seven hours, and we got back home around 5 am. I’m lying around like a potato today and watching television. (Did I tell you that we were chosen to be a Nielsen Family? We’re loging everything we watch in a Nielsen diary, so be prepared for even more  HGTV and shows like The Good Wife coming your way soon. Cuz I have a vote. The power makes me dizzy.)

Anyway, I’m feeling better, but will do a follow-up with my cardio guy. And here I thought we wouldn’t have any fireworks this fourth.

My DIL sent a copy of their insurance card with the VIN#, their policy number and the effective date of coverage. H is on his way to DMV now. Let’s hope this will be sufficient “proof” to end this massive in-depth probe.  As you may know, my state officials can’t get enough of in-depth probes, vaginal or otherwise.

Is it still Sunday?

img_7190My Light Pink Hydrangea

I thought today was Monday. This morning, I left a comment on a blog, “Hope you had a nice weekend.” This retirement thing is really setting in. I left my job when we moved here, but H sort of kept his hand in, working a few days a week (which helped with time awareness) until last year, or was it year before last. See what I mean. It’s bad enough that I don’t know what day it is. Now, even the years melt into one another like a box of crayons left too close to the stove. Honestly? Since H retired in earnest, I don’t think I should be expected to know what day it is. If I can get the year right occasionally, I think I should be left free to roam the streets. img_7183

It’s been a quiet weekend so far. Listening to some cul-de-sac neighbors set off their fireworks was as close as we got to excitement. It wasn’t exactly like sitting on a blanket overlooking the reflecting pool in DC as fireworks exploded over the Washington Monument.

Instead, we did some freezer diving (I stole that perfectly descriptive term from a fellow blogger but can’t remember who), and found a ziplock bag of Carolina barbecue hiding back there behind the venison steaks. A quick macaroni salad and some coleslaw made an easy-breezy July 4th meal. Last night, we broke bad and ordered Chiles Rellenos. They were incredible. I’ve done nothing but dream about them since Jean from Misadventures of Widowhood wrote about her recent experience at a Mexican restaurant.img_7184

So, back to freezer diving. Of course, it describes perfectly what we do when our freezer is bursting at the seams. There’s last year’s birthday cake hiding behind Aunt Sally’s homemade soup, tucked behind all of those freezer-burned pork chops, but I googled it. Yes, I did. I wanted to see if it was one of those terms that everyone else on the planet already knew. It turns out that freezer diving has another, more literal, definition than digging around for food in your fridge. It was spawned by last year’s heat wave in Japan, and has been described as a Japanese “epidemic.” People started climbing into convenience store freezers to cool down.freezer-diver03 I’m going on the record and predicting that this will not catch on in America. We’re too fat and tall, but mostly FAT. You know it’s true. It’s all that high fructose corn syrup and such. Chiles Rellenos have nothing to do with it. img_7192


Happy Firecracker Day


His ivy is growing!

H and I are staying home today. Honestly, I’ve spent enough Independence Days on I-64 to satisfy my lust for punishment. You could not get me out there today by sticking me in the eye with a hot poker – not even if you told me that my car wouldn’t overheat and the best and weirdest talk radio ever would keep me company. img_7251

I’m headed for the deck with a cup of coffee. The wind has picked up so the chimes should sound pretty. It looks like we may get a little of Arthur’s rain without his punch. We need it. I hope all of you have a great weekend. Eat those hotdogs and hamburgers and chase them with your beverage of choice, but stay safe.

Marital Unrest in the Cul-de-sac

pods storage systemsGoogle Images

Our former neighbors moved less than a year ago. Another young couple with kids moved in. Our neighborhood is filled with young and growing families. We have a wave-and-smile relationship with most of them. We wave and smile when we go to the car. We wave and smile when we take the trash to the curb. We wave and smile when we’re working in the yard. It would be fair to say that we’re only slightly acquainted with most of our neighbors except for our next door neighbor. And she’s all we need to know because she keeps us abreast of all the rest.

I can’t even say that we know the new young couple who bought the former young couple’s house across the street. They’ve only been there a short time. They have two young kids. With our glorious weather, I’ve practically camped out on the deck with my jug of water and a book or the iPad. A couple of weeks ago, I heard car doors opening and closing with a little more gusto than normally warranted. I looked up and the neighbor seemed to be packing up his car.

I told H that I thought something was going on. He’s usually the nosy one. I really don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the neighborhood, but this interrupted my audible book. I had earbuds in my ears, and I still heard the commotion. H didn’t have much to say about my curiosity. He knew no more than I did.

A couple of days later, one of those pods sprouted up in the driveway, and the serious loading and packing began in earnest. Did you ever know anyone who divorced immediately after or just before giving birth, or just after buying a new house, etc.? It always seems especially sad when a couple puts a period to their marriage immediately  after making a life choice that makes most of us think about the potential that lies in the future. Long-term plans start taking shape. Dreams become more than ethereal mist that disappears when the sharp light of day hits it. We try to look into the future. We dream and conjure. We see ourselves living there. We visualize family barbecues on the deck, Christmas mornings by the fireplace, that third bedroom transforming into an office with walls of family photos, placing the mirror Grandma gave me right there.

So you know that only a few months ago my neighbors were looking forward. What happened? Marriages can end suddenly, I suppose, but most of the time they disintegrate slowly. It often begins years before anyone on the outside knows anything. He disengages; she smolders, and the clock starts ticking. Even when there’s an affair or some other kind of betrayal, one or the other often wants to keep trying, at least for a while, but they know it’s rocky. So why do they buy a house or have a baby? Do they think it will help?

Even though we only have a wave-and-smile relationship with them, I hate to see it happen.

Newer neighbors have already moved in right behind the old/new neighbors, and life goes on. If houses could only talk, right? It reminds me of that Carly Simon song, It Happens Everyday.


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