So You Want to Make a Call….


Good morning Everyone!

 

I had to make a telephone call yesterday.  For years in our town, every phone number began with one of two prefixes – 234 or 329.  There was a time (this was true in my grandparents’ town, too) when you only had to dial five numbers to make an in-town call.  In a kind of shorthand, you either started the number with 4 or 9 and the phone brain that resides somewhere most of us never see automatically supplied the first two digits.  Long distance calls required 1, the area code and then the phone number.  Those days are long gone.

Telephone

My Grandmother’s Favorite Telephone

Today, a phone call goes more like this.

I dial:  1-205-555-5555  (FN)

Phone brain:  Screeching electronic tones, then:  (Pleasant Female Voice):  “The number you have reached is disconnected or no longer in service.  If you think you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try again.”

Even though I know that this number is active and in service,  I dutifully hang up and check the number.  Some part of me knows that the Phone Brain is watching from afar, and there will be consequences if I don’t follow instructions.  Seeing that I dialed it correctly, I decide to try just the last seven numbers.

Phone Brain: (Sterner Mail Voice, but ditching the screeching electronic tones):  “We’re sorry  but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number.  Please hang up and try again.”

Me: Hmmmmm.

Pursuant to instructions, I then dial 1-324-4008.

Phone Brain: (Same Stern Male Voice):  “We’re sorry  but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number.  Please hang up and try again.”

Me: !

Successive tries with 1 still fail and I begin to call Phone Brain names that I hope my child never hears and repeats.  I finally drop the 1 and use the area code and the seven digit phone number:  205-324-4008. (Please note that this is the one instruction Phone Brain did NOT give me!)

The call finally goes through.  I think I can hear Phone Brain laughing in the background.

Telephone Switchboard

Phone Brain

I would like to add that only a Phone Brain with a wicked and twisted sense of humor would add “392″ as an additional prefix in a town where “329″ reigned for three decades.

Have a great day!

Nancy

FN:  The phone number has been changed to protect the innocent as well as myself, since most receptionists would deem it justifiable homicide if someone gave out a number that required them to field meaningless phone calls from people trying to see if a number works.

 

 

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The First Trip to the Beach, 2014


Good morning, Everyone!

We went to Panama City Beach for the weekend using a Groupon for the Edgewater Beach Condominiums.  While we were hoping for good beach weather, and were led on by the various forecasts we observed until we passed the cancellation date, we ended up with cloudy skies, a brisk wind and a high of 69.

However, it was the beach, so we managed to have fun anyhow.  We had invited a friend of Kayla’s to go with us, so Kayla was happy from the beginning.  She loves having a buddy with her!

We got a late start on Saturday.  For some strange reason, the two girls, ages 11 and 12, weren’t exactly eager to get up in the morning – I think it had something to do with the talking and giggling that occurred once we finally made it to the condo Friday night and after Mark and I went to bed.  Once the two girls had showered and done their hair (here you can add another hour!), we went to Another Broken Egg Cafe which has fabulous brunch dishes.  After that, we decided to go shopping at Pier Park.  I gave each of the girls a little spending money, and had the best time watching them shop.  They would enter a store and just start wandering through the racks.  They would then find something they liked, check the price and then decide whether they could afford it, and, the more difficult decision, whether the item was something they wanted enough to spend their money on.  Kayla’s comments on the prices of things were pretty funny, as were her comments on the multitude of T-shirts whose messages she found offensive in a few stores.  Miss Priss announced that there was no point in buying a T-shirt that you couldn’t wear to school!  I agree with her, but would get embarrassed when she would point to a T-shirt and talk at the top of her voice about how inappropriate it was.

Kayla was also afraid to buy anything because there might be something else farther down the line that she would want more.  She agonized over the Vera Bradley purses (until she found out what they cost!), over these hair twister plastic thingies that would have cost her $30 for 4 (essentially all of her money), and several other items.  She finally decided on a souvenir cup from the retail shop at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Restaurant, and it took all of the sales person’s helpful comments about the lifetime warranty on the cup to for her to keep her resolve.

On the way into the shopping center, we had gone by a kiosk where a man was selling children the opportunity to jump up and down on a trampoline-like thing with harnesses and bungee cords that would let them reach much higher heights than normal.  With the unerring eyes that children have for such things, Kayla saw it on our way in and kept commenting on how much she wanted to “bungee jump.”  Mark hadn’t seen the trampoline outfit, and thought that Kayla was talking about bungee jumping for real, so he was getting very aggravated because he knew that there was no way that she would climb up a high tower and then jump so she could be bounced up and down on an elastic cord.  The situation was not improved by Kayla’s mentioning bungee jumping every 5 minutes or so.  However, as her friend observed, at least it had taken her mind off going to the beach, which had been mentioned every five minutes or so until Kayla saw the trampoline.

Once Mark and Kayla  finally got the resulting word tangle smoothed out, Kayla and her friend got to jump on the trampoline – $10 a child for four minutes of jumping.  I think the kiosk person should have given us a discount – he had no-one waiting to do the jumping until my two girls started, after which he had a line about three families deep.

We returned to the hotel room, where both girls insisted on at least going to the pool.  The pool immediately behind our unit was large, beautifully landscaped and not heated.  They both said that was the one they wanted to try first.  I told them to go on to the pool and try dabbling their feet or their arms in the water until I got back with the towels from the car and let me know when I got back if they still wanted to stay in that pool, or instead find a heated one.

It took much less time than I expected.  They greeted me at the door leading to the unheated lagoon pool expressing a decided preference for the heated pool.  It was only behind the next tower, so it wasn’t far.

The heated pool was a big success with them! I sat pool-side and read while they played.  Late, late in the afternoon, the sun burst through the clouds for just a little while, and they both begged to go to the beach.  We only had about a half hour left anyhow before we had to return to the room, so I took them on down.  My child’s friend tried the water at various depths, announced it was too cold, and returned to play on the beach but not in the water.  Kayla kept insisting the water wasn’t that cold and spent about 20 minutes in it, after which she too finally came out.  She said you got used to the water after a while; I’m convinced that her legs just went numb from the cold.

We finished our night with a wonderful dinner at Captain Anderson’s, a fabulous restaurant, and mini-golf, which was a  lot of fun.

We had to get up early the next morning in order to return home, so we sent the girls to bed about nine.  I’m fairly certain they didn’t sleep until a long time after that, but at least we tried.  They spent a fair amount of time sacked out in the car as we drove home.

The forecast for Sunday, when we had to leave by 7,was, of course, sunny and 75.  It looked like Panama City Beach was going to reach that and more when we left.

I hope all of you had a Happy Easter!  Have a great day!

Nancy

An Unconventional Solution to a Controversial Problem


Good morning Everyone!

Spurred on, no doubt, by the fact that today, April 17 in Alabama, I am huddled under a quilt with the heat on, I have discovered the way to solve the many sided problem of global warming and climate change with a minimum of fuss.

Take one representative from every side of the problem, and lock them in a room with any mother of  three children that are between the ages of 4 and 8, or, if you have particularly trenchant representatives, a mother of three boys between the ages of 11 and 15.  A solution will be reached.

Such a mother is skilled at the art of compromise (such as “If you can’t agree, I”ll settle this issue for you and none of you are going to be happy”), the art of  playing nicely (ie., “Sorry Mr. Ecology, you just can’t take your crayons and go home if the other people don’t agree with you!”) and the art of getting people to listen  and obey who originally didn’t want to (as in “Captain of Industry, sit down and shut up.  Now!”).

She might need a few extra rooms to use for time outs, and someone to help with meals and snacks, but I’m pretty sure that after about 3 days the group will reach a consensus.

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

Elegant Time


Good morning Everyone!

Every family has treasured objects, things that have been passed down from older family members to younger family members to cherish and remember them by.  Regardless of their value to the outside world, within the family, these items are precious and irreplaceable.

In my family, two of our special items are clocks – but not just any kind of clock.  We have the privilege of owning two Seth Thomas mantel clocks, each one inherited from our grandparents.

Seth Thomas Mantel Clock

Our Two Seth Thomas Clocks

For many years, Seth Thomas was one of the premier clock makers in the United States.  Known for their above average quality, bronze clock works and elegant styling, Seth Thomas clocks were very popular.  While their flagship product was no doubt their grandfather clocks, their mantel clocks were very popular too.

Seth Thomas Mantel Clock

“My” Clock

“My” clock came from my grandfather.  One of Grandpa’s hobbies was repairing old clocks, and this is just one of many he repaired.  According to what I have read, this clock is an “adamantine” mantel clock.  The “adamantine” term refers to its black finish.  With its gold pillars, lion faced handles on the end, and black marbled paint finish, it is quite elegant.

Seth Thomas Mantle Clock

Close-Up of the Marble Finish

 

Elegant Mantel Clock

“Mark’s” Clock

“Mark’s” clock also came from his grandparents.  Its elegance flows from simplicity of design rather than the ornate finish of the adamantine clock.  From the simple curved design to the single narrow contrasting strip of wood immediately above the base to the clear numbers on the clock face, everything on this mantel clock stands for clean lines, the elegance of minimal styling and function.

Both clocks have the “Seth Thomas” name printed on their clock face.

Seth Thomas Clock

Mark’s Clock – Seth Thomas label

 

Seth Thomas Adamantine Clock label

My Clock’s Seth Thomas Label

The two faces of each clock differ also.

Seth Thomas Adamantine Clock Face

My Clock’s Face

 

Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Face

Mark’s Clock’s Face

Our two clocks are so intact that the original instructions on the back of each clock can still be seen.  I had a hard time taking a clear picture of the label on the back of my clock, but I promise it is still legible.

Seth Thomas Clock Instructions

Instructions for My Clock

I had better luck when I tried to take separate pictures of the emblems on each side of the instructions.

Seth Thomas Label

My Clock’s Left Emblem

Seth Thomas Symbol

My Clock’s Right Hand Emblem

For whatever reason, it was much easier to get a picture of the instructions on Mark’s clock.

Seth Thomas Mantel Clock

Mark’s Clock’s Instructions

Mark’s clock even tells us approximately when it was purchased by means of the warranty notice on the back.

Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Warranty

Back Label on Mark’s Clock

Seth Thomas was a real person who started making clocks with wooden works in 1813.  In 1842, Seth Thomas Clock Company introduced its first model with bronze clock works instead of wood, and by 1845 all of the wooden works models of clocks had been phased out.  Our clocks have metal works, which I assume are bronze.

Seth Thomas Bronze Clock Works Adamantine

My Clock’s Works

 

Seth Thomas Mantel Clock Works

Mark’s Clock’s Works

 

Seth Thomas clocks were manufactured continuously (with a couple of ownership changes) until 2009, when the company that owned the Seth Thomas clock brand at the time went into receivership.  My extensive internet research (defined as three google searches instead of just one) makes it difficult to tell if Seth Thomas clocks are still being made today.   Some sources say yes, but by a different manufacturer; others simply stop their history with the 2009 receivership; and others state unequivocally that the clocks are not made anymore.

Whether Seth Thomas clocks are made today, Mark and I treasure the two Seth Thomas clocks we own, not only as nostalgic reminders of simpler eras but even more for the people they remind us of.

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

A Highly Biased History of Writing, Part I


Good morning Everyone!

We take writing for granted – this marvelous ability we humans have developed as a way to share information with each other, even across thousands of years and millions of miles.  Today, in the year 2014, I can read the thoughts of people who lived thousands of years before me.  Have you ever wondered how it began?   I did, and thought I’d share with you my discoveries from the Ugg Clan Chronicles.

Cave man hunting

Ugg Hunting

Ugg was hunting one day.  While he was gone, Suzugg,  the third youngest Ugg child, with some indeterminate assistance from the twins, Uggo and Uggu involving a rock and a fall, hurt her leg.  Seeing that the injury was more serious than the normal bump or bruise which every Ugg child was expected to take in stride, Uggette a/k/a Mrs. Ugg, decided that a trip to the local medicine man (two valleys over, fifth cave to the right) was in order.

Medicine Man

Local Medicine Man

A trip to the local medicine man was not easy.  The local medicine man was only considered the local medicine man because the next closest one was in New Jersey, which would not be discovered for another 8000 years.

New Jersey State Bird

Mrs. Ugg was faced with the task of hauling fourteen children, one of whom would have to be carried (Mrs. Ugg nominated Uggo and Uggu as the carriers, in light of her suspicions as to their role in Suzugg’s injuries) across two ridges and two valleys.  This meant an overnight trip, which meant that Ugg was going to be back sometime before they could return.

Cave Man Family Funny

Ugg, Uggette and a few of their blessings

Uggette had to figure out a way to leave Ugg a message he could understand or else he would worry – there were an infinite number of reasons your whole family could be missing when you got home from a hard’s day hunting and only one or two of them were benign.  And an unnecessarily worried Ugg was a very angry, grumpy Ugg once he recovered from his relief that everyone was okay.

Multi-tasking as most mothers do – comforting Suzugg, keeping Uggodu and Uggodo from burning down the forest in their quest to see what was and was not flammable (we’ll discuss the history of alchemy and chemistry some other time), explaining to Uggita and Uggito that no, you could NOT eat every plant you found in the forest indiscriminately and keeping a sharp eye on Guidugg, who never missed a moment of mischief if he could help it – the harassed Uggette was hard put to find a message that would make sense.

Mischievous Cave Boy

Guidugg

Uggette finally drew a stick figure in the ground of the cave with an X over one leg and drew an arrow in the direction of the medicine man’s cave with fifteen dots underneath it, thereby inventing pictographs, numbers and art at the same time.

Uggette was right; the trip did end up being an overnight one.  They reached the medicine man about an hour before sunset.  While he took care of Suzugg, the medicine man’s sympathetic wife took care of Uggette – putting Uggette’s fourteen children with her own ten and placing the four oldest from either family in charge of the rest – and sitting Uggette down on the nearest rock for a relaxing cup of tea.

Old ethnic fabric texture

The Medicine Man’s State of the Art Woven Rug

When Ugg arrived around midnight, worried, tired and irritated, the medicine man’s wife took care of him too.   A peak at his sleeping family assured him all was well, and a quick word with the medicine man assured him that Suzugg’s ankle was only sprained, not broken (or her leg missing, as he had half feared was what was meant by the pictogram – pictograms can be somewhat lacking in terms of precision).  He gratefully sank down by Mrs. Uggette on the medicine man’s state of the art woven rug, and gave her a quick hug as he did so, pulling the cured bearskin over him.

And that was the beginning.  We’ll move further into the development of writing as recorded in the Chronicles of the Ugg Clan in later posts.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Fn.  All images come from http://www.clickartonline.com and are fully protected by copyright.

 

 

A Capable Child


Good morning Everyone!

Yesterday, I showed you what had happened to the connecting road outside our neighborhood on Monday due to the heavy rain.

Road Washout

Width and Depth View of Washout

What I didn’t mention was the havoc the heavy rain caused in the school bus pick-up schedule.  School opened at 10 on Monday due to the rain, so when the bus didn’t pick Kayla up, I didn’t think too much about it.  I just figured it got held up by standing water somewhere, although I did think it a little strange when we pulled up to the school and the bus that should have picked her up was also unloading students.

School Bus

School Bus
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

On Tuesday, however, when the bus didn’t show, I told Kayla I would call the transportation office after I finished an appointment I had in a city about an hour away.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I received a call from the Director of Transportation for the school district about an hour later (apparently out of the blue) telling me that he had thought our road was closed for access as well as the road where the culvert was and the bus would be sure to pick Kayla up on Wednesday!

Surprised

Surprised!
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

If you have been around offices of any kind, you will know that the person to go to when you want something done is the secretary that has been there the longest.  That person always knows how to go about things.  Apparently my child has figured that out instinctively.

School secretary

The Person Who Gets Things Done!
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Whether she thought I would forget to call due to my absent-mindedness, or she just happened to have the opportunity to stop by the school office that morning, Kayla told the school secretary – the one that checks people in when they’re late – that the bus had not picked her up for the past two days.   The school secretary called the transportation director, who investigated and called me.

The bus was there five minutes early the next day.  Maybe I should have Kayla handle all of my scheduling issues!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Around the Second Bend in the Road


Hello Everyone!

We had rain Monday.  Not the gentle rains that slowly permeate the ground and nourish the grass, trees and flowers of spring, but the frog-strangling, gully-washing, can’t-see-in-front-of-you-to-drive type of rain.  And we had it for about six hours.  The combination of downpour and time led to a flood of water puddling on lawns, streaming down roads, carving mini-canyons in local gullies and other such stuff.  Water even got into our sunroom from somewhere – we’re not sure whether it came in from the puddle gathering at the back door or from the back wall – but fortunately it wasn’t very deep.

rain, umbrella

Heavy Rain
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Our first hint of the most dramatic consequence of the rain came when I left the house for work in the rain about 8:00 a.m. and saw the “Road Closed” sign on the left side of our neighborhood entrance.  I didn’t think much about it; I just figured a section of road had flooded over and it was closed until the waters could recede.  When I came home at lunch and the sign was still there, I became a little curious and called the police department.  It turned out that a section of road over a culvert had been washed away.

Break in Road

One View of the Washed Out Culvert

We found out later that the white pipe in the picture is a water main that also broke, leaving folks on the other side of the break without water for two hours.  That didn’t sound too bad either, but since the “Road Closed” sign was still up, Kayla and I parked the car at the entrance to the neighborhood and walked down the road a ways.  After two houses and two bends in the road, we came across the washed out culvert.

It was a big deal.

Road Washout

Deep view of washout

It also apparently became a neighborhood novelty.  In addition to the small crowd on the other side of the break (we waved at each other and shouted messages of good will across the gap), a regular stream of people showed up between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to view the EVENT.

Road Washout

Width and Depth View of Washout

No-one in the town is more grateful for the timing of the wash-out than our family – we can time the washout to somewhere between 5:35 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.  Why?  Mark drove over that very spot at 5:35 a.m. on his way to work.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Mosquitos, Cool and Passwords


Good morning Everyone!

We are going to skip around a bit today, so hold on and keep up!

Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

We went to see the movie “Noah” this weekend.  Some of us liked it (me) and some of us didn’t (Mark), some of us were confused (Kayla – we had a wonderful teaching moment about Genesis when we got home), but watching the animals proceed onto the ark made me think.  The insects and the snakes swarmed onto the ark together, and I have to wonder if it really was necessary to allow the mosquito, the cockroach or the poisonous snakes onto the boat.  I wonder if Mrs. Noah was tempted, when they approached and boarded, to just go ahead and smash the cockroaches and mosquitos out of existence?  I would have been!  I am sure that Mrs. Noah put her foot down about the snakes and made Noah and his sons take care of them.

Man chased by Mosquito

Noah Encounters a Problem Keeping Care of the Mosquitos in the Ark
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

I received the ultimate accolade a Mom can get yesterday – one of Kayla’s friends told her that I was a “cool Mom.”  When Kayla told me that, I wanted to do cartwheels in celebration!  Like most Moms, I bring a lot of self-doubt into this job of raising a little person into an adult, and it was unexpected affirmation that I am doing something right.

Cartwheel, Happy Mom

Happy Mom!
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

I would like to address a word to the people in charge of websites – you have got to start taking it easy on the passwords! When we had eight characters, I could handle that; when you added a requirement for at least one capital letter, I grumbled but submitted, but now that you are requiring an extra character that is neither a letter or number, I am hopelessly out matched!  To make matters worse, you lock out my account after only three tries for the password.  And why don’t you tell me before I have to reset the password what the password format is?  With the format, I have a much better chance of figuring out what the password was originally without having to reset it

And retailers – why oh why are you making me set up an account for each of you?  I don’t always remember that I had set up an account the last time I shopped with you, and requiring me to go through the entire “reset password” segment  before I can complete an order cools my enthusiasm for the purchase down to about ice cream temperature  Please let me check out without giving you my life story.  At the rate we’re going, you’re probably just going to have to let me start opening everything automatically at the “reset password” link!

Door without handle

What Logging In to a Website Without the Password Feels Like
http://www.clickartonline.com

 

And that, dear friends, is that!

Have a great day!

Nancy

The Art of Absent-Mindedness


Good morning Everyone!

It is well-known at my household that I have a gift for being absent-minded.  My family is resigned to the fact that I will forget the dinner choice they made in the den after I walk the ten feet or less it takes to reach the kitchen and have to ask again.  Kayla, when she leaves the house to catch the bus, makes sure that she locks the front door to the house so I won’t forget. while Mark is very patient when he asks me for something from the kitchen, I leave, go in there, putter around for a while and then return to the den without his original item. Kayla knows when the two of us are riding around to do something to speak up when I am about to pass the original destination, having already forgotten what that was.

Yesterday, I reached what must be the  pinnacle of absent-mindedness for any mom –  I forgot to pick up Kayla!  She has been riding to and from school on the bus, but on Thursdays I pick her up from the house and take her to art, then pick her up from art at the end of my workday.

Yesterday, although I knew I had to pick Kayla up from art when I left the office, I had forgotten by the time I reached the driveway of our house.  I remembered Kayla just as I pulled up into the driveway, so I immediately left and returned to art to get Kayla.

I called our art teacher, Bonnie, to let her know what I had done and that I was immediately turning around to pick up Kayla.  Bonnie is always a very good sport about things and I was so amused at myself I told her what had happened  When I picked up Kaya, she was outside Bonnie’s The Cottage Gallery, waiting for me with that gleeful l look all children get when their parents manage to mess up on something.

After we got home, Mark told Kayla not to worry; he’d always send me back to get her – we would never want to do that to Ms. Bonnie!

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

 

 

Middle-Aged but Handy


Good morning Everyone!

Yesterday the three of us went out to dinner, and on the way home Kayla was chattering away when she hit the topic of things she didn’t want to have happen when she got old.  At the top of her list was having her face wrinkle.  Mark explained to her that as life goes on, somehow it prepares you for the next phase of your life so that the things you once dreaded don’t end up seeming like a big deal after all.

MIDDLE AGED

In the midst of this discussion, Kayla started to tell us something and then started to talk about our age.  After a couple of stumbles, where she started to say that the two of us were young, she finally stopped and said, “You might as well face it – you two are middle-aged.”  I told her it was a good thing she hadn’t said that around Christmas time!

HANDY

I do not think of myself as particularly handy.   I can usually handle an electric drill after three false starts – one to figure out how to turn the thing on, one to figure out how to put the drill bit in and one to figure out which way the drill is supposed to be turning  - and I can hammer a nail into a piece of wood without hitting a thumb or finger more than every other time but that is where my tool competencies stop.  However, even a blind pig can find an acorn now and then, and yesterday was my day.

One of the copiers at work was acting up.  It kept thinking we wanted to use the manual feed, which was supposed to be closed, instead of the automatic feed.  I decided that even though the manual feed was closed, I would see if I could press it even closer to the copier and hold the manual feed door shut while I encouraged the printer to print – and it worked!

Then I got home to find out that Kayla and Boo had managed to knock a lamp onto the floor, which broke the shade off.  Kayla said she couldn’t put it back together.  Repair was essential because it was my lamp for my seat in the den, the seat I sit in to cross-stitch, knit and write.  I studied it for a minute, took part of the inner workings of the lamp and made a center screw stand a little higher, then used the pole at the bottom of the shade to attach shade and lamp back together again on that central screw – and it worked!

I think I am going to be smart and rest on my laurels for a while, before I assume that my two little repairs yesterday makes me capable of tackling a really big problem, such as replumbing the kitchen sink.  None of it is ever as easy as it looks on TV.

Have a great day!

Nancy