Friday, March 30, 2012

Parking post drives blog traffic

I thought it was a little odd that my blog traffic had spiked in the past week ... even though I hadn't posted. When this happens, I like to check and see if there's a specific reason.

Many times, it's because of search hits for images or linking to reviews I've done in the past four years. Not this time. Well, not entirely anyway.

Some of that traffic has been generated by The American History blog on the American City and County website! At first, I didn't see why This D*mn House would be connected to a story about cities and parking. Before the page came up, I guessed it might be one of my references to downtown St. Louis' penchant for tearing down old buildings and turning them into parking lots. But no.

It was my post on Union Market. That made me smile. And I didn't even have to force it.

Houdini Sunglasses

For days, my sunglasses have been trying to escape from me.

They slip off my head. They fling free of the pocket in my work satchel where one arm has been tucked inside. They leap from my lap onto the bus floor. They bounce down the stairs behind me as I exit the train’s subterranean cave.

This morning is no exception. They are peeking through the top of my bag with a stance not unlike that of someone checking to see if the coast is clear before bolting.

As I weave through the darkened streets of downtown, it occurs to me that if I was my sunglasses, I might well try to escape, too.


I rediscovered both my Kindle and my iPod this week. In part, it’s because I’ve been taking the bus, having wrapped Pearl up against the threat of potential severe weather. And the din of the afternoon bus is maddening sometimes so I drown it out both audibly and visibly.

I pick up where I left off this morning and swaddle myself in music and words. I see all kinds of words in the book I’m reading that seem to leap off the page. In some ways, the author is my male counterpart and I see glimpses of myself in his thought processes, his humor, his emotions. Then, what he says speaks to me in a tone far louder than the Gorillaz tune that is thumping through my earbuds.

I am becoming frustrated with the fact that I am pretty much mad from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. I have no control over my emotions and I can’t figure out what to do or how to stop it. … I can’t stop being mad.

I stare at the Kindle screen and it occurs to me that in roughly 50 words, this guy has described my general state of being. Yes, I’m mad. There. I said it. I finally admitted it. No matter how much I laugh, how cheery a tone I may temper my speech with and regardless of the number of ;-) I might add to a message, I AM TOTALLY P*SSED OFF! At most people. Most of the time. Every day.

And apparently, I have been for some time. This is normal, or so multiple websites tell me. Depending on who you believe, there are either five (Kubler-Ross, that I read in college) or seven stages of grief. All of them, however, agree on three things: Grief is not limited to the loss of a person. Anger is one of the stages. And the stages don’t necessarily happen in a defined order. I have clearly hit the anger stage. And stopped.

Now that we’ve cleared that up …


The phone rings. It is the mother. No greeting or acknowledgement, just: “What’s wrong with this TV? It says no signal.” (What a difference a week makes. We HAVE the new TV! More on that in another post.)

I know immediately that, despite my repeated cautions to the contrary, she has tried to change the channel using the TV remote instead of the cable box remote. I am now challenged to do techno-diagnosis/techno-resolution over the phone. Seriously? This morning?

God. Help. Me. Please.


I survived that experience. And I laugh. I laugh both out of sheer relief and because I suddenly remember the last page I read in my book and the message the author shared from his “sidewalk writer.” (Someone regularly writes messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside his building and he regularly shares the messages. It makes me like the author even more.)


Yeah. What he said.

As a precaution, I check to make sure that my sunglasses haven’t disappeared.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Step Closer to Tuning In

Last night, I bought a TV. This evening, I got an email saying that said TV is on its merry way to a local store. It should arrive on or before April 3.

The good news is that I have purchased several things online at Walmart in recent years and never had a problem. And, I have to think that if they did not have any more of these TVs, they would not send me an email saying it had been shipped. I have to think that I wouldn't have heard from them at all except maybe in a week or so saying they couldn't find one.

On that note then, I remain hopeful.

In the meantime, I'm stuck watching the TV for which contrast and brightness have very serious issues. Cross your fingers ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So I Bought a TV

I just didn't buy it at Kmart.

Turns out that before I went to bed last night, there was already a second email in my inbox CANCELING my SECOND order. At least this time they acknowledged that the cancellation was a result of the item being out of stock, not trying to pass it off as something that I supposedly initiated. Being me, I sent them some "feedback." I got a response earlier tonight, a response that made it clear to me that the person responding didn't completely understand the problem.

It did apologize and did acknowledge the loss of my time. (That and $1.50 will buy me a cup of coffee.) I'll give them a little slack because Sears is going through a rough time. Maybe in the not-so-distant future we won't even have a local Kmart. But what they need to learn is that when times are tough, the way they handle experiences like mine makes or breaks a company. So, for now at least, I'm sticking by the Charlie Babbitt assessment: "Kmart sucks."

On the positive side, so far at least, I have purchased a TV and I should have it next week.

Even better than buying the TV is that 1) It's still local and 2) It was $11 cheaper than what I was going to pay for it! That is, of course, if I don't get an email tonight telling me that the deal is off ...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Can It Be ... a New TV? Wait and See

Charlie: Let me let you in on a little secret, Ray: Kmart sucks.

Raymond: Yeah. Kmart sucks. – Scene in “Rainman”

I am a creature of habit. So for as long as I have been a purchaser of televisions in my life, all of them, save one, have come from Kmart. The one lone TV came from Circuit City. It lasted just long enough for the warranty to expire. Every other TV? Kmart. And they last years and years and years ...

I’m trying to remember how many TVs that actually is. Counting the three that are currently in the house, I think we’re talking at least eight, maybe as many as 10. Of the three currently in the house, one is in the mother’s room; it’s not very big. The second one is our current model which, for all intents and purposes, stopped working properly 4-6 weeks ago.

You still get a picture (lousy), the sound remains OK and you can barely make out anything written that appears onscreen unless it’s a dark background with white type. Otherwise, forget it. We’ve learned to adjust and only occasionally b*tch about it. (Usually, when there’s something we can’t read.)

And then, there’s the third TV. It’s a 32-inch I got for a huge bargain on Black Friday. (I bought it having a feeling that after being on almost non-stop for 2+ years, and in regular use for several years before that, this TV would eventually die.) It’s sitting in the dining room, still unboxed. Well, you say, what luck! One TV is broken and you have a brand new one.

Except that the 32-inch TV (which is 31 inches wide) will NOT fit in the Queen Anne entertainment center in the livingroom. Not unless I take the doors off. And the mother won’t hear of it. So, I decided that that TV will go in the family room – just as soon as the family room is relieved of its current warehouse duties. So, for the last month or so, we have been locked in a bad relationship with the current TV. (You know what I mean. The not ideal relationship; the one you know it’s not. It might even border on abusive, but you get just enough of what you need that you tune out as much BS as you can and tough it out. It’s easier than starting over. And it’s easier than hefting the behemoth out of the cabinet.)

Except yesterday, I hit the breaking point. I’m divorcing that d*mn television! The clincher was being unable to read the outcome of a docu-crime show. And the deal-breaker was seeing a TV that WILL fit in the entertainment center in a Sunday ad flyer. From Kmart.

I decided to just stop on my way home and see if they had one in stock. They didn’t. I asked about a store in a neighboring town. The clerk sent me to customer service. The girl at customer service kindly complied and called the neighboring town’s store – TWICE. No one in electronics ever picked up the phone. “I can give you the number and you can call a manager,” she offered sweetly after I’d stood there for 10 minutes. Sure, I thought. And get put in eternal hold hell like this again? Um, no. I left.

I’d now tried in person and over the phone. Neither channel got me a TV. Hey, I’ll go online! I buy all kinds of things online. And, while this has been a crazy experience on occasion with Kmart, I always end up getting my stuff. When I got online though, the website told me that the neighboring town was out – but my LOCAL store had the TV. Huh. So much for trying to do it in person! I placed my order and figured that sometime this evening I’d be going to pick up a new TV.

Instead, I got an email informing me that my order had been cancelled – as I’d requested. Wait. Cancel? When the hell did I cancel the order? Furthermore, WHY would I cancel it when I’ve already been through so much crap to place it?! So I called the customer service number in my email. Nice gal but I could barely understand her. And, I noticed that this number was different than the one in my original email. It made me paranoid. While the gal offered to place the order again, I passed. By this time, that scene from “Rainman” is playing in my head. Loud.

I went to the website and clicked on the “chat” option. Five minutes into that conversation, I am told that my store DOES NOT have the TV; neither does the neighboring town. The town after that, however, does. Do they REALLY have the TV? I actually asked that. Yes, says my chat buddy, at … and gives me the store address. I want to shout at the computer. I KNOW where the store is. But will I find a TV when I get there?

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. Stay tuned …

Monday, March 12, 2012

Duckin' Back In

They’re baaack. The ducks are back!

They showed up again a little over a week ago. I was looking
out the kitchen window and there they were. I don’t think it’s Jemmy and I know
it’s not Frank. (You may recall that Frank lost a foot somewhere.) I am
convinced that poor Frank didn’t survive, despite the almost unrealistically
winter we’ve had this year.

No. I think this is Esther Williams and whatever beau she
has managed to collect since the fall. I think that because almost as soon as I
saw them last week, the hen was strutting around the area where their small
pool I bought early last summer had been. Even after several subsequent visits,
she still keeps walking every inch of that former area. So, I’m fairly sure she
is Esther.

Well, the ducks aren't the only ones to reappear. Meanwhile, I'm re-entering the scene again, too. I’ve been quiet for the past month as the mother has been battling some kind of illness. Doctors, hospitals, labs. Not a fun scenario. On the plus side, this week is getting off to a good start, so send good karma in the form of prayers, thoughts … whatever manner you can manage.

It’s pushed me farther behind on trying to get started again on the house as time and money allow. But, we’ll deal with it as it comes. The most important thing is just getting her well.

The ducks have been a welcome distraction and we’re very glad to see them again. As soon as we get to more stable spring/summer temps, I guess I’ll have to replace Esther’s pool!