A blog about "nothing"!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Photo of the Week, September 29, 2014

Another photo from a trip to Niagara Falls!  This was taken at the Butterfly Conservatory at the Botanical Gardens on the Canadian Side.  The gardens are gorgeous but the butterfly conservatory is definitely my favorite part.  What was neat about this particular type of butterfly is when it's wings were closed, it was gray like the background it is on so it blended right in.  I had to time it just right to get this photo as this particular butterfly wasn't cooperating.  I just love the color contrast.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Take: Downton Abbey, S5, E1 (No Spoilers!)

I did manage to get to watch the first episode of the new season before it’s shown in the US.  I had been careful not to read any spoilers beyond the usual teasers and releases of information that ITV had provided.  Last season was a huge disappointment to me right from the start.  I can say that this was not the case with the first show of season 5, I’m just hopeful that it will keep the momentum through the rest of this year.  Without further ado:

1.       Let’s not forget that Tom Branson was the chauffeur to begin with-and Irish and a rebel.  And so are his friends!

2.       Violet is back to her usual stuff with Isobel.  Isobel is just smarter this time.

3.       Lady Edith starts the season out as her usual sad sack self and it just goes downhill from there.  Just remember-books are for reading, not throwing.

4.       Mr. Moseley was born a few years too soon for “Just For Men”, ooops

5.       Uh, I think it’s time they get a puppy, if you do the math, Isis is at least 12 years old.  Being a Labrador retriever she’s ancient.  Sibbie and George would have a blast with a puppy.  Come on Lord Grantham, you bad grandfather you!

6.       Mr. Carson still needs a Xanax

7.       Mrs. Hughes is still the voice of reason

8.       Go Daisy!  Don’t let the others get you down.  Would like to see her strike up a friendship with Miss Bunting. 

9.       Oh no Jimmy, that was NOT a good idea

10.   And last but not least-Thomas, OH THOMAS!  The Thomas I know and love is back and with a vengeance.  Just the way it should be. Yay!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Photo of the Week, September 22, 2014--and a mystery solved (sort of)

This isn't a spectacular photo, but I think it's just cool.  How many times do you get to see Niagara Falls made out of Lego's?!?!  This was taken at Brick City, a Lego devoted museum in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  They have lots of other displays, but I thought this was appropriate since it was right there.

The mystery--where all of these harassing phone calls started trying to sell me health insurance.  I was really concerned about the fact that they not only had my name and phone number, but my e-mail address as well.  Today I FINALLY got my answer.  What the idiot at the Federal Trade Commission told me was only partly true.  All of the call aren't scam calls.  This morning I got a phone call from another person trying to sell me insurance.  This guy sounded as genuinely confused as I was annoyed when I told him that I wasn't looking for health insurance.  He asked where in the world they might have gotten my name from and I told him about looking online over a year ago and being bombarded with calls, but that I hadn't done that again.  He said that was more than likely where it originated this time too.  He said the websites that offer this "service" (yeah right, some service) get paid for each referral by each company whether you actually buy something or not!  I'm sure that some of the scam ones pay them too just to get your info, they aren't going to go to each one and verify that they are a legitimate company or not.  They just want their money.  He said they will re-submit old information from their data base just to get more money.  Argh!

He actually couldn't have been any nicer, said he would remove my name and number from their records and also told me that the only real way to get it to stop is to answer each call and tell them to remove you from their list.  Basically the same thing the guy from the FTC told me, but at least this guy had an answer for me as to how they got my information.  If it happens again, I will just change our phone number, hate to do that, but it's the only way I can think of to get it to stop once and for all.  Since I have absolutely no idea what the website was that I submitted it through originally, I am stuck at this point.  I really hate computers some times...

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Garden Report 2014-How Did You Do?

2014 will definitely go down as one of the strangest years when it comes to vegetable gardening in this area.  Even my flowers were strange.  I attribute most of the issues I had with water-too much or two little at the wrong times.  I should have known from my hydrangea putting up blooms in an entirely different color at the beginning of the season that something was up!  I suspected it might have been from too much water from all the snow melt off and I think I was right.  As the season progressed the colors were back to normal so I guess mineral levels were starting to get back to what they usually are.  It definitely surprised me when my normally blue/purple blooms showed up as lavender!

The biggest let down for me this season was the lettuce.  I really think the roots just rotted off.  Whenever I would pick it, instead of tearing nicely like it usually does, it would just pull out of the soil, roots (what little there was) and all.  I mentioned in a previous post that I thought about replanting and I even bought seeds to give it a try, but I held off and I was glad that I did.  I finally gave up a couple of weeks ago and told my husband to get rid of it.  I don't think a rabbit would have even wanted to eat what I had.  Argh!

My onions were also a bit of a failure, but for a totally different reason.  I only planted half as many and replanted a couple of slightly mature ones left from last year to see how they did.  The mature ones did okay, I just pulled a couple this morning.  The new plants sprouted, but what I didn't think about was the tomato plant that I put in right next to them.  We have since named it "The Monster"--in all my years of growing things, I have NEVER seen a tomato plant grow as big as this one did.  It takes up a ton of space and shaded my onions to the point that they never got very far. 

The peppers did okay, definitely not as well as last year.  Partially to blame was the fact that they were planted a whole month later than last year due to cold weather lasting well in to May/beginning of June.  But they also didn't thrive like last year.  I'm not sure if it was because I used different planting soil with them than I usually do, but I didn't get nearly as many nice large banana peppers as I did last season.  I did get enough for us to have sausage stuffed peppers several times and I just picked off a bunch to use in salsa and freeze for other cooking.  There are a few still maturing, but I think we are getting very close to the end of them, I don't see many new starts or blooms/buds.

Without a doubt, the tomatoes did the best of everything.  The cherry tomatoes are still going strong, I see some little ones forming and some buds too, so we will have those a little bit longer and the plant is in a pot, so even if we should get some frost, I can bring them in and extend the season.  The Roma tomatoes (my favorite!) have also done very well, but I think we are in the last days of harvesting those.  And then there's the Beefsteak...that's The Monster.  It took a while, but once we started getting tomatoes off it, we had a steady supply.  This week it is going great guns, enough that we gave away tomatoes to the neighbors and may have to again before the week is out.  The only issue I've had with our tomatoes is that they have been splitting.  A friend told me that it is caused by inconsistent watering.  Imagine that, around here we don't get just steady rains anymore, it's either nothing or torrential downpour.  It didn't seem to affect how many we got though, our neighbor commented that we got more tomatoes off the one plant than a friend of his got out of his whole garden.  We must have done something right.

This morning I picked everything that was ready so I could assess where we were at and figure out what I'm going to do next:

I had some tomatoes in the refrigerator that I picked a couple of days ago so I used the two onions, a pepper and several tomatoes to make a batch of fresh salsa-yum!!  One nice thing about having these out of my own garden is knowing that they were just picked, I can use the peppers over the next couple of weeks in my cooking.  Everything has tasted fabulous, particularly the tomatoes.  I will miss them when the season comes to an end. 

Now I have to start thinking about next year as I get everything ready to clean up for the season.  I don't think I will bother with onions next year, it hasn't been one of my better "crops".  We are also kind of tired of the peppers, so I may just skip those for a year, I can always buy those somewhere if we decide we need them.  I will try lettuce again since I have the seeds and I will definitely do some tomato plants again.  My husband agreed with me that perhaps we need to give the two permanent beds a rest anyhow, so we will be restricted to our smaller planters.  I am thinking next year we will plant Roma and Heirloom, those seem to do the best here and I love the flavor of both.

Autumn is only a couple of days away...where did the summer go?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Photo of the week, September 15, 2014

And heeeeerrrrreeee's Laney!  She loves hiding in the covers on our bed, she's a good snuggler too.  She was just a little over a year old when this picture was taken.  She turned 6 last month, where has the time gone?!?!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Land of the Free, Part 2

I wanted to update you on some information I found in regards to the problems I was having with harassing phone calls last week.  Consider this my personal public service announcement!

After I called the FTC and Verizon on Thursday I didn't get anymore calls.  All day Friday went by without getting any calls until almost 5:00PM.  Of course, it happened when I was in the bathroom.  No message left, but I decided to get the phone number via *69.  Then I decided to try and call it.  My call went to a print shop in Florida!  I told the woman why I was calling and that her phone number had been "spoofed".  She wasn't aware of any issue and didn't even know what spoofing was.  I explained to her that someone else was using her phone number to show up on caller ID so that they could call people for illegal purposes.  She was shocked and said she would have to tell her husband about it.  She was very nice about it and thanked me.

I decided out of curiosity to type her number in to a search engine.  Holy cow!  Her phone number along with several others have been used over and over again to hound people.  It led me to a site called "Pissedconsumer.com".  The main purpose of the site is to register complaints with companies, but there were quite a few with issues over this scam.  Unfortunately not a lot of the people realized it was a scam.  They thought it was a legitimate company called "Health Enrollment Center".  IT IS NOT! 

There are several scams going around that are run in a similar manner that I thought I would also make you aware of.  One of the older ones is a recording telling you that "you can lower your credit card interest rate" and sends you to a menu to talk to a customer service representative.  I finally got rid of this one a while back by waiting to talk to a representative and chewing them out royally.  Another one is a call you get from someone claiming to be "Windows Support" or "Microsoft Support".  When I challenged this guy, he got very indignant with me and swore at me!!!  I haven't gotten one of those in a while either.  I guess if they suck you in though, they will actually ask for access to your computer and totally mess it up.  I personally find it hard to believe that anyone falls for any of these, but they do, everyday.  That's why these scumbags keep doing it. 

How to fight back?  Good question!  All of these calls are originating outside of the US and using the spoofing software to make it look like they are calling from here.  Because they aren't actually from the US, law enforcement can't do a thing about it.  But there is nothing that says we can't be mean and nasty to them when they call.  I personally will be making horrible (and I mean horrible) comments to any future callers.  I'm not going to go in to what I'm going to say, but I've got a whole list of things I've been working on.  A late friend of mine used to play a game with telemarketers and he would start asking them all kinds of questions that he knew they wouldn't be able to answer.  He said they would usually get exasperated and hang up.  My all time favorite was a friend who used to get all kinds of telemarketer calls at the office she worked at.  She figured that if they thought nothing of wasting her time, she thought nothing of wasting their time.  She would tell them that "Harold" handled anything like that and would they please hold.  Sometimes they would just hang up then, but some of the more persistent ones would agree to it, and she would put them on hold, INDEFINITELY!  The best part of this was they would eventually hang up, but then try again later--and when they called back they would ask for Harold!  This clued her in immediately that they were a telemarketer, so she would put them on hold again.  I thought this was one of the most ingenious things.  And "Harold" is hanging out somewhere with Keyzer Soze laughing his head off ;)

Something else I wanted to warn you about too--beware of the call that comes through where the caller ID is your own number!  I've not personally had that happen, but I know of someone else who did and apparently this isn't all that unusual either.  They are using some sort of software to do this as well. 

Once again I just want to emphasize, DO NOT give out any information about yourself to these people.  They are trying to gain credit card numbers, social security numbers and anything else they can get their grubby little hands on so that they can ruin your credit and perhaps steal your identity or your money. 

Please feel free to pass these posts along to anyone who you think might be able to use this information.  This is annoying beyond belief.  After reading some of the complaints I consider myself lucky, some of these people have been getting literally 60 calls in an hour from these losers, unbelievable!  I've actually thought of telling the next one that calls and asks for me that "she's dead, she had a heart attack running for the phone" just to see what they say.  If anything new happens with this, I'll be sure to post about it.  And if you have found a way to get it to stop or have anything to add as a way of perhaps stopping this, please post it to the comments.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Land of the Free...not so fast!

Today is 9/11, a day that will go down in history as one of the worst in United States history.  Never before had we experienced terrorism on this level on US soil.  A lot of remembering goes on today each year in honor of those who lost their lives, those who have served and our freedom.  But are we really free? 

I'm being "terrorized" in a different way right now and no one can seem to help me.  Last week I started getting phone calls from people claiming to be representatives from health insurance companies.  They informed me that I had requested a quote on insurance.  I had done no such thing.  I did go through this about a year and a half ago when my husband was about to lose his job, but hadn't since.  I initially thought it was a computer glitch and that for some reason we had been put through again by accident.  I've since found out otherwise.

Day 1 was ridiculous, I had at least 10 calls in one hour.  They continued until about 5 PM and then quit.  We got none over the weekend, but on Monday they started again.  This has gone on all week with one day getting at least 13 calls in an afternoon.  Today I decided to call the phone company to see what could be done.

Getting through to a real human being at Verizon is a joke and a half.  Especially since their menus DON'T MATCH accurately.  After jumping through a million hoops I finally got to talk to someone and explained the problem.  She was very nice but said that there wasn't anything the phone company could do, I would have to contact the Federal Trade Commission.  She gave me an 800 number to call and told me some other stuff she thought I would need to know.

I then called the FTC.  Right at the moment I am beyond disgusted and feel as though even more of my tax dollars are going to waste.  I don't feel like a proud American.  I feel like an abused American who has no rights anymore.  I personally feel like a victim.

Apparently this is yet another scam.  And to make matters worse, they pass our number along to someone else.  And the FTC can't help me in any way, shape or form, even though my phone number is registered on the Do Not Call Registry.  Or maybe it's more like they don't want to.  I'll just have to put up with these calls until someone finally gives up.  All I know is right now, it seems as though it is better to live in this country and be dishonest than to be an average Joe who just tries to eek out a living and live a clean life.  I am sick and tired of free handouts to those who don't want to do anything.  Especially tired of the dishonesty that seems to be running rampant in the United States right now.  From scams like this to stolen credit card information to dishonest politicians, it's one big vicious circle. 

At this moment I am beyond mad.  I am angry beyond belief.  I can't have something as simple as a telephone without being harassed because someone thinks that it's okay and no one to do anything about it.  And what about the person who is much more gullible than I am who will actually give out information that they are asked for, thinking that the call is genuine.

THAT my friends is why I'm posting this.  I'm a first rate bitch, I'll be the first to admit it and I will take on these sorry excuses for human kind verbally, so they had better be prepared.  I worked enough years in a collections position and I can dish it out as well as take it.  But I feel sorry for the elderly person or someone who isn't a bitchy type-A personality like me who might fall for this or other scams.  Why does anyone think that this is okay?  Do they sleep at night knowing that their actions could be financially ruining someone? 

Tell your friends and family not to give ANY information out over the phone to ANYONE!  I know that it seems ridiculous I have to say that but regularly on our local news there are stories of people who have been swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars because of this kind of stuff.  Quit giving to charities who call as well.  I came up with a simple response to that years ago-"I do not take solicitations over the phone, please mail me something."  Interesting, not one of them has.  Instead of giving to national charities, give locally instead.  Choose who you give to wisely, don't be bullied in to giving.  And if it seems to good to be true, it is.  Toss those "you have won" papers you got in the mail in the trash, you didn't win a damned thing.

In closing--if you are someone who knows me personally and might call me at home, I apologize in advance for anything I might accidentally say to you.  You know who it's meant for.  I'm angry, ready and loaded for bear.  I love a good verbal fight and it's been a while...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Photo of the week, September 8, 2014

This week you get two pictures for the price of one!  At our old house we had several low spots in the yard where water would accumulate after a heavy rain.  I was excited to look out the window one day and see a bunch of bluebirds turning the puddle in to their own swimming pool!  We don't have a lot of bluebirds in this area for a variety of reasons, but when you do see them, you usually see more than one.  At our new house we usually see them sitting on top of our clothesline poles!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On...

I love that phrase.  In case you don't know, it was a saying printed on a motivational poster in Britain in preparation for World War II.  It has an interesting history in case you want to read about it.  I like it because as someone who is of primarily British/WASP heritage, it really does fit that "stiff upper lip" attitude that defines much of the British population.  As I'm typing this post, I'm drinking my coffee from a mug that has it on too. :)

It's been a trying couple of weeks.  First off, I started having some not so good side effects from the medication I had been taking for my arthritis/knee pain and had to quit taking it.  I don't care that what I'm taking is a prescription dosage of an over the counter medication--it was awful going cold turkey!!!  I feel really bad for anyone going through withdrawals from stronger stuff, yowsa.  I'm a bit grumpy now because I'm in pain and I'd kind of gotten used to feeling pretty good.  Hopefully I will be able to go back on it eventually, but I'm not counting on that.  Ugh.  Then I've had several people who I know pass away over the last few weeks, all of them fairly young.  Mostly from cancer which aside from the obvious sad feeling from their passing, it also scares me because it makes you wonder-what in the world have we been exposed to in this area? 

Last week my sister came to visit which was really nice, she has had so much going on that it had been a year since she'd been here.  I had been to her house twice in the meantime, but still.  We had fun making doll dresses, going shopping and just hanging out together.  Unfortunately while she was here my laptop decided to crash.  Thank you so much Microsoft Windows update!  It wouldn't have been such an issue except the instructions to make the doll dress were on the laptop. :(  After some very nasty language and resetting it (thank heavens I have somewhat of an IT background) I was able to get it up and running enough that we could use it.  Since then I've been systematically putting back all the programs I lost in the reset.  Not feeling the love at the moment Mr. Gates...

Finally, we are dealing with a family member who is very sick, and at this point in time how it will turn out is anybody's guess.  Trying to remain optimistic at this point because it's still early days, but the reality of how it could end up is always in the back of one's mind.  I also found out yesterday about a friend who is dealing with a serious medical emergency.  Getting old sucks.

In the meantime, I'm still plugging away at my usual stuff.  I haven't really done much cleaning, but I did take some more stuff to the Goodwill.   Next week I will have some more stuff to donate and also take to the consignment store as I'm starting the seasonal process of changing out the ending season's clothing and getting out my cold weather clothes.  It is still warm here, but you can definitely tell that autumn is just around the corner.  I'm also getting ready to start a heavy push on Ebay, last year my busiest time was mid-October till the beginning of December.  I figure if I list the stuff now and it doesn't sell, I will just keep relisting it and eventually it will sell as the online shopping traffic increases.  I am happy to say that I am getting to a really good point in this whole process, what started out as a major chore in January of 2013 is now approaching the "just a good way to make a few extra bucks"-yay!  You'd never know it to look at the collection of boxes in my craft room, but honest, they have a purpose.  Seriously, I saved boxes all spring and summer to be sure that I had enough for some of the larger items I am planning on listing.  My hope is that by the time Christmas arrives, the majority of them will be gone.  I hope so, I have a lot.  I'll keep you posted. 

My doll blog is going very well, if you haven't checked it out, please do!  I've been having TONS of fun with it and meeting some new and interesting people in the doll world.  I'm learning a lot too, loving every minute of it.  Right now my brain is on overload with ideas of things I want to write about for it as well as things I want to make.  I find myself looking at things from a different view point, particularly when I'm at the thrift store.  Yesterday afternoon I spent part of my afternoon cutting and gluing foamcore to try out a doll bed idea I had.  It's a sickness, it really is.

My thrift store trips have a new purpose to them thanks to the doll blog.  I have quit even looking at clothing for the time being.  First off-I NEED NOTHING.  Second, there are so many fun things that turn up that can be repurposed.  I even found a doll horse that needs some TLC!  I won't bore you with all of that stuff, you can check that out over at my other blog.  I do still look at other things though, and I found a few things that weren't doll related that I had to have.
Seventy Five cents!!!!!!!!!!!  And it is an actual souvenir from St. Paul's, it has their marking on the bottom.  I have a collection of various things from London or London themed, some I've purchased there, some have been gifts, some are just London related items I've found elsewhere.  So of course, I HAD to have this.  Not a mark on it either. 
And this:
You have no idea how excited I was to run across this.  I don't usually look at the DVD bins much because we already have so many that we need to watch, but something drew me over there.  It was $2.99, and the DVD's have no scratches on them.  I've mentioned before that I loved this show when it originally aired and I had started watching it over again on Amazon Prime, only to have them yank the rug out from under me and change it from being part of the Prime membership to a pay per view item-grrrrr.  I can watch 10 episodes for what they want me to pay for one--sorry Amazon.  I may have to start checking the DVD bins more often to see if I can find more seasons.

Another thing I'm working on is my semi-annual grocery purge.  I started doing this a couple of years ago, it's a great way to clean out the pantry and the fridge.  I especially like doing it at this time of year so I can stock up on different things for the winter.  I don't know about you, but what we eat during the winter months can be drastically different from what we eat in warm weather.  It's also a way of making sure we don't have any science experiments incubating and that we are using things up that are getting ready to expire.  I also want to try out some new recipes with the weather getting cooler.  Do you find that you crave more "comfort" type foods as the weather gets colder?

Have a great day!  Enjoy these last days of summer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Photo of the Week, September 1, 2014

Lots of fairs ending today, Happy Labor Day!  Doesn't this guy look like he has some sort of secret and he's grinning about it?  I took this photo a couple of years ago at the Stoneboro Fair, I'd forgotten all about it until I was digging through some old picture files.