December 20, 2008

On November 18th, I received an email from a local company I’ve been doing business with for the past few years.  They make the best toffee I have ever tasted.  The email advertised free shipping, and informed me that I could pick a date for receipt of the shipment.  I wanted to give toffee to some of my co-workers, so I submitted an order the same day I received the email, and chose the delivery date of December 17th.  It did not arrive on that day.  I sent this email to the owner:

December 17, 2008 6:02 PM


I was supposed to receive my order today (December 17th), but I did not.  I really need to have this order by tomorrow at the very latest.  Please advise.

Thank you.

This was the response:

Sent: Dec 17, 2008 7:03 PM
To: Stephanie
Subject: Re: Order Confirmation No: 359


Thank you for your email.  Looking at our records, your order was shipped last evening.  You can expect it no later than December 18th. (Yeah, right.) Your desired delivery date is not guaranteed as stated on our website.  “Selected delivery date is approximate, not guaranteed.” (For the record, the email neglected to mention that fact.  Also, why would they mail something the evening before the requested delivery date??)

Unfortunately, we do not have control over your package once it leaves our hands.  (Excuse me, but they do have control over when the package leaves their hands, which is the issue here.) We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.  We ship hundreds of packages during the holidays and the best we can offer is an approximate arrival date.  For future orders, just write us a note in the comments section at checkout and we would be happy to fill and ship your order sooner.  (Why should I have to write a note in the comments section?  Common sense dictates that you don’t ship a package the evening before the requested delivery date!) We appreciate your business and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

The next day, I sent this email:

Dec 18, 2008 2:29 PM

I just wanted to let you know that I still have not received my order, which means I spent an awful lot of money on boxes of toffee I won’t be able to give to the co-workers for whom I bought them, since tomorrow is our last day of work before the holidays.  This is a most distressing (and costly) situation.

The response:

Date: Dec 18, 2008 11:54 PM


We hope you receive this email in a timely manner.  Our suggestion to you is to check with your local PO first thing in the morning (before your postman leaves for his daily run) if this is at all possible.  I’ve seen cases where the postman does not deliver the package the day it arrives and we have found that our customers have found their purchase sitting at their local PO.  This does not happen often but has happened.  It has got to be there…It was shipped out the evening of the 16th.  We apologize for your inconvenience and please notify us that you have received your package.

This is the email I sent on the 19th:

Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 2:22 PM
Subject: Re: Order Confirmation No: 359

I received my order today (December 19th).  For the record, the package was postmarked December 17th, the day I was supposed to receive it.  (You say it was shipped the evening of the 16th.  That was too late to ship an order that was supposed to be received by the 17th.)  I’m really disappointed due to the fact that,  as I mentioned before, I can’t give the toffee to the intended gift recipients because I work for a school district, and we are out until January 5th.

The response:

Sent: Dec 19, 2008 3:42 PM
Subject: Re: Order Confirmation No: 359

Once again, we are not responsible for the length of time it takes the post office to deliver a package that is 10 minutes away from our bakery. (Huh?  WTF does that mean?) It clearly states on our website “A desired delivery date and not a guaranteed one”.  We do our very best to estimate timeframes and get our packages out in a timely manner and do not want any of our customers disappointed with our service. We have shipped hundreds of packages this holiday season and have had no delivery issues with our customers.  Something we pride ourselves on.

In saying that, please feel free to return the unopened package for a full refund.  Once we receive it, we will issue your refund.  Have a Merry Christmas.

My response:

Dec 19, 2008 6:57 PM

Of course, I already opened the package.  So, instead of a refund, all I want at this point is an apology and acknowledgment of an error on your part.  You yourself said that the package was shipped out the evening of the 16th.  Surely you have to admit that a package that was shipped the evening of the 16th could never reach its destination by the 17th.

It was not my intention to make such a big deal out of this, but there was something in the tone of your latest email that bothered me.  It was not necessary, for example, to tell me about the hundreds of packages that have been shipped without delivery issues.  The fact remains that there was a delivery issue with my order, regardless of the timeliness of your other deliveries.  There is also no need to defend the integrity of your business.  I never suggested anything to the contrary.  I merely expressed disappointment over receiving my order too late to give the toffee to the intended recipients, and pointed out that the package was shipped too late to be delivered in time.  The post office cannot be blamed for that.

I really like your products, and have enjoyed doing business with you in the past.  It would be a shame to have this incident leave us both with hard feelings.

Merry Christmas to you, too.

Is it me???  Am I turning into a Scrooge?? Or am I justified in feeling frustrated by the owner’s refusal to assume responsibility for the late delivery?  I just want her to admit that it was her fault, instead of blaming the post office.  The package was actually delivered in a timely fashion, considering that it was brought to the post office on the evening of the 16th.

Oh well.  At least it looks like we’ll have a White Christmas.

Before I go, I want to share a couple more photos with you.  This happened the same night we had the torrential downpour (and the leaking roof).  And we don’t have a chainsaw.

Oy gevalt.

Song of the Day:  Scrooge by The Muppets

Five Golden Rings

December 19, 2008

Schools are closed today, in anticipation of the big snowstorm that’s headed our way.  This means that I won’t get my last gift, and my Secret Santa won’t be revealed until we go back on January 5th.  Aww, isn’t that a shame.  NOT.

Actually, I am kind of curious to find out who would give me such crap.  I finally began to receive gifts on Wednesday, when I found three presents in my mailbox.  I guess the person was absent on Monday and Tuesday, or else they just plain forgot. Anyway, after opening the first four gifts, I have to say that I was better off with nothing.  Everything I’ve received has gone straight into the garbage.

It is very obvious that I am a victim of re-gifting. For day one, I got an ugly makeup bag.  It looks like one of those freebies you get when you make a purchase.  Day two: a sample size of stinky body wash.  Day three: a sample size of stinky body lotion.  Day four: a sample size of stinky body spray.  I imagine that day five will be a sample size of stinky bubble bath, or something like that.  Everything is from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  What I think is that my Secret Santa received a gift basket of all these items last Christmas or for a birthday, and is giving it to me, piece by piece.

It is possible to give tasteful gifts on a low budget.  I am living proof of that, having spent less than twenty dollars on the five presents for my co-worker.  On day one, I gave my gift recipient Crate & Barrel snowflake soap; six soaps individually wrapped and stacked in a clear box.

Day two: Pirouline rolled wafers filled with cocoa and hazelnut cream.

Day three: A Crate & Barrel twig kissing ball

Day four: Stefani Tadio’s popular sticky notes (That link doesn’t take you to an active purchasing site, but it does show a good sampling of this terrific item.)

Day five: A ceramic bowl with decorative potpourri

Last year I had a wonderful Secret Santa.  She gave me a really cool holiday candle, a gourmet candy apple, and pretty earrings. (I can’t remember what the other two presents were, but I do remember that I was pleased with them.) Oh well.  Maybe the real Santa will bring me something nice to make up for this year’s disappointing Secret Santa.

I know it’s supposed to be the thought that counts, but thought was most definitely not involved in this fiasco.  Bah, humbug.

Song of the Day:  The Twelve Days of Christmas

I took Penny to the vet yesterday.  She had a fever, so the vet wanted to check for Lyme disease.  The test came back negative, thank goodness.

So, what was the diagnosis?  Intestinal colic.  I looked it up online and the symptoms include restlessness and whimpering.  Yup.  I’m so relieved it was nothing more serious, and am happy to report that Penny seems to be back to her old self.

Since I wasn’t at work yesterday, I asked My Friend to check my mailbox to see if there was anything from my Secret Santa.  There was nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  A big fat goose egg.

I wasn’t going to participate in the Secret Santa gift exchange this year, but the organizer talked me into it.  The morale in the high school (actually, the whole district) is very low.  Ms. Organizer believes that the Secret Santa thing is a way to lift our spirits and promote friendly feelings.

Unfortunately, my spirits are being deflated by this whole thing.  I know that it is better to give than to receive, but not in this case.  The whole point of a Secret Santa is to give and receive.

This really sucks.

Song of the Day:  You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Dr. Seuss

Penny Lane is in Pain

December 16, 2008

When I got home from work yesterday, the first thing I did was hitch Ellie to her lease to take her out to do her business.  As I was closing the door, Penny got in the way and the door hit her.  Not hard, though, so I didn’t think anything of it.  When I came back inside, I fed the dogs, got dinner started, and sat down to watch General Hospital and work on the afghan I’m knitting as a Christmas present for my father.

Penny was lying on a fleece doggie bed at my feet.  She kept moving around, as if she couldn’t find a comfortable position.  What’s worse, she was whining, whimpering, and crying.  I picked her up and sat her on my lap, but the moving around and crying continued.  I put her back on the floor and she surprised me by going to her crate.  (There’s another doggie bed in there.)

I was getting very worried.  This was not like her at all.  I called Daniel to see if he would be able to leave work to take her to the vet if I could get an appointment.  Unfortunately, the receptionist at the vet’s said they wouldn’t be able to see her until the next morning.

Besides constantly changing position and whimpering, poor Penny was shaking uncontrollably.  When Daniel got home, he took her upstairs and put her under the covers. At one point, her head snapped back and she made a scary sound, sort of a strangled yelp.  She continued to squirm around, but finally settled down.

During the night, her yelping woke me up, but she went back to sleep pretty quickly, so I was able to do the same.   She seems better this morning, but I still want to have her checked.

In other news, our Secret Santa gift swap at work started yesterday.  Each day this week, we are supposed to leave a present in the mailbox of the person whose name we picked.  As luck would have it, I picked the name of one of the few co-workers I can’t stand. Nevertheless, I placed gift number one in her mailbox yesterday morning.

I checked my own mailbox at various times throughout the day only to come up empty handed by the time I left.  Perhaps the person who picked my name was absent… Still, it was disappointing.   I’ll be absent today, but made arrangements for My Friend to put gift number two in Ms. Co-worker’s box.  Even though I’m not crazy about her, I wouldn’t want her to feel left out the way I did yesterday.

Song of the Day:  I’m Gettin Nuttin’ For Christmas (‘Cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad.)

The Christmas edition of “Getting to know you.” (My Friend sent this to me via email.)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both.  Bags are easier, but unwrapping presents is part of the fun, so I always make sure to wrap some gifts.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real.  This year, we have a gorgeous Fraser Fir.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The first or second weekend in December.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first weekend of the New Year.

5. Do you like eggnog? It’s okay…

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Mary Poppins doll.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

8. Easiest person to buy for? My brother, Mike.  (A gift certificate to Outback.) Even though my siblings and I have agreed not to exchange gifts this year (and that includes the kids), I wanted to get something for Mike because of all he’s been through.  He owes $60,000 in medical bills, and can’t afford to eat out anymore, so I thought this would be a nice thing to do for him and his girlfriend.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, but I haven’t put it out in years because there’s no place to set it up.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I don’t think I ever received a gift for which I wasn’t grateful.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Nightmare Before Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The day after Christmas (for the next year, obviously)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I can’t remember ever doing that.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

16A. Lights on the tree?
Yes, multi-colored.

16B. Lights outside? No; we don’t have an outdoor outlet.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh holy night.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I’ll be home for Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (or Donner) Blitzen and Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A star made out of grapevine.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Having to be super frugal.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? I’m not into themes.  Since red is my favorite color, I guess that’s what I’ll go with.

24. Favorite food for Christmas dinner?
We typically have a pasta dish (this Christmas, I’m making stuffed shells) and some kind of meat.  I usually make a turkey, but wanted to do something easier this year, so I’ll be making a spiral ham.  Personally, I hate ham, but most of my family members like it.  Maybe I’ll make a turkey on New Year’s Day, just for us.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

26. Who is most likely to respond to this?
Frosty the snowman.

26. Who is least likely to respond to this?
The Grinch.

Song of the Day:  Getting to Know You from The King and I

Before I get to today’s Holidailies prompt, I’m going to do the Letter meme that’s going around.  I first saw it at LA’s place.  These are the instructions:

You leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on. (Don’t worry, you can leave comments without fear of commitment.  I’ll only give out letters to people who ask for one.)

I have been assigned the letter “R.”

1. Rebecca, my firstborn daughter, has a sunny disposition and a big heart. She has brains as well as beauty.  I’m very proud of her.  Here she is with her boyfriend, Matt.

2. Rachmaninov (or the variation, Rachmaninoff ) – I fell in love with the music of this Russian composer/pianist when I saw the movie “Shine.”  In this Youtube clip you can hear Rachmaninov play his Piano Concerto 3.

3. Radiohead – I love Thom Yorke’s voice and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

4.  Raspberries – When they are in season, there are not many fruits that I like more than raspberries.  Eating them is a tactile pleasure as much as it is a gustatory one.  There’s something velvety about the feel of a raspberry on my tongue.  I also love raspberry sauce.

5. Red – My favorite color.  I love red autumn leaves, red barns, red nail polish, red lipstick (even though I can’t wear it), red tomatoes and red cherries, cardinals and red-breasted robins, the red flesh of a ripe watermelon, painting the town red, walking the red carpet, Red Rover, etc.

Photo from hi5layouts

6. Reading – It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader  – always have been, and I suspect I always will be.

7. Repose – I love to sleep.  After a draining day of trying to carry on in spite of constant pain and fatigue, it feels so good to tuck myself in and drift off to the Land of Nod.

8. Repast – I really like to eat.    Stuffed sole, penne a la vodka, Buffalo chicken wings, calimari fra diavoo, pad thai , homemade pizza, pastichio,  falafel, chicken francese, filet mignon, lobster, peanut sesame noodles, ziti al forno, king crab legs, crabbies (see below), etc.  The only food I’m not crazy about is ham.

9. Respect – Find out what it means to me.  Seriously, the lack of respect these days is alarming, and I’m not just talking about young people.

10. Retirement – I love the thought of not having to go to work anymore.

Okay, here’s today’s Holidailies Prompt:  Share a favorite recipe that you like to make (or persuade someone to make for you) at this time of year.

This appetizer has become a family favorite at Christmas.


2 (6 pkg.) English muffins
2 sticks butter, softened
4 tbsp. mayonnaise
2 jars Old English cheese spread
2 cans crabmeat
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Beat all ingredients except crabmeat together. After ingredients are smooth, fold in crabmeat and spread over the English muffins. Bake at 400 degrees until bubbly.  Cut into quarters. Note: They may be kept frozen for weeks before baking.

By the way, it’s becoming too much of a chore to try to come up with an entry every day.  The holiday  season is hectic enough without putting any more pressure on myself, so I’m calling it quits with Holidailies.

Song of the Day: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Where the Love Light Gleams

December 10, 2008

Today’s Holiadilies prompt:  Do you still live in the place where you grew up? How far away are you now, and why?

I’ve never moved out of the city where I was born, but I have lived in a lot of different places within this city.  In fact, I have moved a total of fifteen times, including the time I moved twice in one day!

From newborn to the age of 10, I lived with my family in the upstairs apartment of a two-family house owned by my grandparents.  (They lived downstairs.)  Then we moved to a Dutch Colonial on a really nice street.  I loved that house, and so did my friends.   One of them referred to it as the “My Three Sons” house.

My bedroom was on the third floor.  It was originally an attic, but my parents converted it into living space.  I even had my own bathroom.  After my mother gave birth to twins, I had to share the room with one of my sisters.

When I was 20, my mother and I had a very ugly fight, and I moved in with my grandmother.  That was a nice house, too.  The most striking thing about it was the fireplace.  Instead of being against a wall, the fireplace was its own three-sided wall, made from stone and glass.  It jutted out so that it was visible from two rooms.  One side faced the dining room, and the other side faced the living room.  The third side faced forward in the space between the two rooms.  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.

My grandmother’s  house was on the market when I moved in, and it was sold shortly afterwards, so we moved to a condo.  At the age of 22, I got an apartment with my sister, Patti.  It was a cute little place.  But, when Patti got married, I had to look for a cheaper apartment because I couldn’t afford the rent on my own.

When I found a place, my friend, Janet, borrowed a pickup truck and helped me move.  Before moving in, I was a little concerned about the landlady, an elderly woman who lived upstairs.  When I went to look at the apartment, she talked my ear off.  One time I had to call her, and she kept me on the phone forever.

I was afraid she would expect me to keep her company far more often than I was comfortable with.  My fears were justified.  She wouldn’t even leave me in peace long enough to move my stuff into the apartment.  She ran her mouth through the whole process, even while Janet and I were carrying a sofa, for crying out loud.

After the last box had been brought in, Janet and I collapsed on chairs in the living room.  The next thing we knew, the old battleaxe was knocking on my door.  She was outraged over the fact that she saw Janet smoking a cigarette (out on the sidewalk, I might add).  That was when I realized that this woman would make my life miserable.  Having nothing better to do, watching my every move would become her favorite pastime.

Fortunately, I hadn’t signed a lease, so I called my old landlords (a young couple) and asked if I could come back.  They were very agreeable, and even lowered my rent.  Even though Janet and I were deeply exhausted, we re-packed everything into the truck and took all my stuff back to the apartment I had just vacated.

My next move was with The Ex.  We had a newly renovated apartment in what was called the historic district.  It had a cathedral ceiling and hardwood floors and curved walls.  When I got pregnant, we moved to a Victorian house that had been converted into apartments.   At first, we were upstairs, but when the other tenants moved out, we moved downstairs.  (It was a larger apartment.)

After I had my second baby, we needed even more space, and moved into an apartment above a doctor’s office.  During that time, we suffered a financial crisis and had no choice but to move in with my grandmother until we could get back on our feet.  Eventually, our situation improved and we bought our first house for $90,000.  It needed a lot of work, which The Ex was able to do himself, since he is a building contractor.  The kitchen, two bathrooms and family room were gutted and redone.  It ended up being a really nice house.  When we sold it ten years later (because of the divorce), we had two offers for the asking price of $269,900.00.

The girls and I lived in an apartment for a year after leaving our house.  It was beautiful.  The girls had a large bedroom downstairs with their own bathroom.  Upstairs, there were hardwood floors and a working fireplace in the living room.  The downside was the neighborhood.  Our next door neighbors were crackheads and alcoholics.  Every time we left our apartment, we were sexually harassed.  It was awful.

Last but not least is the house in which we currently reside.  In May, this will have been our home for four years.  I’m pretty happy here, and hope I don’t have to move again for a very long time.  There really is no place like home.

Song of the Day:  I’ll Be Home For Christmas, lyrics by James ‘Kim’ Gannon and Walter Kent, sung by Bing Crosby

Santa Baby

December 9, 2008

Today’s Holidailies Prompt: Letter to Santa … or any other holiday icon you like.

Dear Santa Baby,

Slip a million under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awfully poor girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a million in my pocket, too, yoo hoo
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the payments I have missed
Think of all the creditors that are pissed
Next year I could be oh so rich
If you’d check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa honey, I wanna win the jackpot, and really that’s not
A lot
I’ve been a pauper all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, there’s one thing I really do need, to feed
This family of mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, fill my stocking with large bills next, and checks
Sign your ‘X’ on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With notes of the denomination “C
I really do believe in demand and supply
And that happiness money can buy
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, there’s something else you can bestow, more dough
Not in escrow
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight


Song of the Day:  Santa Baby written by J. Javits and P. Springer,  originally sung by Eartha Kitt

Fa La La La La

December 8, 2008

Today’s Holidailies Prompt: Describe your holiday decorating techniques.

I wouldn’t say that I have a “technique” when it comes to holiday decorating.  I just put decorations anywhere I can find a place for them.  It goes something like this…

Bring battery-operated candles up from basement.  Test them to see if they still work.  Spend a shitload of money on new batteries.  Replace dead batteries.  Place candles on windowsills (12).

Buy a $6.99 wreath at the supermarket.  Hang it on the front door.

Go to Christmas tree lot and spend too much time in the freezing cold looking for the perfect tree.  Upon returning home, search basement for tree stand.  Rearrange living room furniture to make room for the tree.  Place tree in stand.  Tighten screws, pump foot lever, sweat and swear (a lot) until tree is fairly straight.  Pour water in stand.  Spread tree skirt.  Leave tree alone until daughters comes over to help with the trimming.

Go back down to the basement to search for stockings to be hung by the chimney with care.  In the bag where the stockings were stored, find some other decorations.  Put Nutcracker, snowman, and Santa on the mantel.

Find a spot for the other snowman.

Find more spots for the other items.

Before hanging this decoration, tradition dictates that I must first hide it someplace where Leigh will stumble upon it unexpectedly and freak out.  She has an unnatural fear of this thing. The other night, I hid it under the covers of her bed as a special surprise for when she came home for Rebecca’s birthday.  Heh heh.

Play Christmas CDs.  Bring tree ornaments up from basement.  Spend a few hours untangling the lights.  Test lights.  Pull some hair out of head and then decide to make do with the few strings of lights that still work.  Spend a few more hours winding lights around tree.  Silently curse whoever’s big idea this was in the first place.

Instead of tinsel or garland, we use strings of musical instruments,

with alternating rows of strings of fake cranberries .  Silently curse myself for thinking this was a good idea.

Take an ornament out of the box.  Hang it on the tree.

Repeat until ready to scream.  Finally, place grapevine star on top. (I used to have an angel but it broke and I couldn’t find a suitable replacement.)

Take painkiller.  Call it a day.

Song of the Day:  Deck the Halls

Say Hello to Oblivion

December 6, 2008

The title of this entry is a quote from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It pretty much sums up my most vivid memory from last year’s holiday season, which is today’s Holidailies prompt.

After Christmas dinner at my sister’s house, most of the guests were in the living room watching I Am Legend.   At one point, my mother and Ex MIL began to converse, loudly, I might add.   It was very distracting, to say the least, and made it difficult to hear the movie.

Those who were sitting on the floor made a big show of moving closer to the television.  Then the volume was turned up.  Still, the talkers took no notice.  They were also oblivious to all the dirty looks and huffing and puffing and harumphing and teeth-sucking and heavy sighs.  Finally I blurted out, “People are trying to watch a movie!”   Only then did the two women become aware that they were being disruptive.

On the way home, Daniel told me that he enjoyed the oblivious behavior more than the movie.   He thought it was pretty comical.   In retrospect, I have to agree. The movie wasn’t very good, anyway.

Song of the Day:  Oblivion by Macy Gray