Since I was leaving for New York on Thursday, I decided, on Tuesday, to double check my card account. I was going to need my card for at least four tanks of gas and two nights in hotels. I wasn’t worried, I just like to be prepared for any contingency.

I opened my laptop, enter my user name and password and peruse the recent transactions.

“Wait! What is this?”

A debit transaction for one cent. One penny. From a firm in London (and I don’t mean the near-by city in Ohio).

A few years ago, an employee of this same bank had notified me of suspicious activity because of a one cent transaction. It was explained to me at the time that the thief would test an account for a small amount to make sure it was active and had funds.

I immediately called the 1-800 bank number and was connected with Robert.

I explained my concern to Robert who, at first, in my mind, reacted too cautiously. “You did not make this transaction?”

“First, I would not use my card for one cent. Secondly, I haven’t bought anything in London. Not even London, Ohio.”

The ending seemed to confuse Robert. Many times when I have talked to the bank through this toll-free number, the person on the other end of the phone has been in Cleveland. And although I realize not everyone in the Buckeye state might be aware of London, Ohio, something made me ask, “Where are you, Robert?”

“The Philippines.”

Okay.

Robert questions me repeatedly, “Are you sure you did not make this purchase?”

“For a penny? I would not do that with my card.”

Once I have assured him, he says to ensure there will be no more fraudulent transactions it will be necessary to cancel this card. They will send me a new one within “three to five business days.”

Quick mental calculations allow me to protest, “I’m leaving for a trip where I will need this card.” Three to five business days would be about the time I’d get home.

Robert offers, “We can expedite the cards. That will be only two to three days.”

Since I haven’t made any offerings to the gods recently, I know this means I will just miss having the cards for the trip.

Robert’s next question makes me feel uncomfortable, “Where are you going? We could send the card to where you are going to be.”

I manage to not answer that question but explain, “I will need the card for gasoline and hotels.” And again, the timing was too tight. Odds would be the card would arrive after I returned home.

“We could expedite the card.”

I notice he doesn’t mention anything about expediting costing me extra money. It’s still too tight to attempt and, “How will I pay for the gas and hotel to get where I’m going.”

“You could go to your local branch where they will make you an emergency card. However, that is only good at ATMs, not at businesses.”

I know ATMs have a limit that can be dispensed in a 24-hour period. My bank is not as local as I would like and I don’t have time to get there before I leave.

Robert puts me on hold. I assume it is to check with a supervisor to see if there are any other options.

He comes back to ask if there is anyone else on the account. Perhaps I could use that card.

“Yes, my husband. But we don’t have the same last names and I have no ID using his last name.” I’m thinking that I could make a copy of Husband’s driver license and one of our wedding pictures, but that does sound a tad far fetched.

By this point, Robert is insisting, over my protestations, that he needs to cancel this card to limit fraudulent transactions. I continue to protest. He is not going to let me off the phone without canceling my card.

I relent only to be presented with more surprises.

“There is a five dollar fee for the new card.” I knew if my card became unreadable, I had to pay the fee, but this wasn’t my fault, so why should I pay the fee? Robert continued, “I can waive that fee.” Good thing.

I’m still concerned just how I’m going to pay for gas and lodging, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge…

“Did you want to expedite the production of the card? That will cost $25.00”

“NO!”

“Okay. So I have cancelled your card and put you in for a new card that will be shipped between three and five days. Is there anything else I can do for you today, Miss Johnson?”

“Thank you, Robert.”

It took me another day before I had an idea for how I could pay for hotels. Gas wouldn’t really be a problem because, usually, I didn’t give the card to anyone. I just used self-serve pumps.

I made a second call to the bank on the 800 number. A friendly female listened to my problem and my potential solution (using my husband’s card) and said, “Yes, we can put a notice out that you are traveling. Where will you be going?”

I rattled off Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. On second thought I added New Jersey. That ended up being smart since I refilled in New Jersey on the way home and New Jersey is not a self-fill state. (Even paying for the attendant, that was the cheapest gas on the trip.)

The long weekend presented no problems. As previously mentioned, most of the fueling stops were self-serve, no problem with the card. No hotel clerk seemed to look at the card. It went through. It was the same with the stop in New Jersey. (The bigger problem there was trying to get the “longer hose” to my fuel tank and allowing more than one dollar of gas.)

Now that I’m home, I feel as if I need to plan a vacation from planning a vacation.

 

For months, I planned a trip to New York City. I would leave after work on Thursday, October 20 drive 3 or 4 hours, spend the night in a hotel, finish the drive on Friday, to my cousin’s where I would bunk. On Saturday we’d go into the city, meet a group of friends and attend a book brunch.

Two years ago, I had won a ticket to the brunch and had a lot of fun. I joked that my free ticket only cost me four tanks of gas, two nights in hotels, my cousin’s ticket and meals. It was still worth it to me.

About six weeks before this trip, my supervisor asked me to plan a new event – Indie Authors Day. We couldn’t do it on the Saturday the Library Journal, the sponsor had designated for the nation to observe. We’ll do it on October 19.

Okay.

This became an all consuming event trying to round up self-published authors, sending information to attendees, press releases to the media, making and updating a Facebook post, purchasing and assembling gift bags, formulating the agenda, write up purchase orders where necessary, and anything else that might arise – such as questions from the authors including “How do I get to Urbana University?”

Then, an e-mail from the Friends of the County Library. Could I assist at the Halloween party to be held on Saturday October 22.

“Um, well, no! It’s going to be a heck of a commute.” I replied in a return e-mail.

Then the good Catholic girl’s guilt  kicked in.

I sent another e-mail stating that I could buy some candy if they needed and drop it off before I leave for my trip.

The reply, “We need three dozen cookies. Each cookie has to be individually wrapped in a zip-lock sandwich bag to keep crumbs off the library carpet.”

“Okay, I could do that.”

In my original thoughts,  I would bake cookies. That idea went the way of the eight-track tape player quickly as I realized I did not have that much time between items already on my calendar.

I can adapt.

My first un-baked idea was to find Keebler Vienna Fingers cookies and decorate them as ghosts (a little vanilla frosting and maybe mini chocolate chips as eyes). I had not been able to find Vienna Fingers (my personal favorite) in a long time, so I started on the internet. I found a site where inserting a zip code resulted in finding out where to get these delectable morsels could be purchased.

I put in Urbana’s zip code. No results.

I tried Springfield’s. Again, no stores selling the cookies.

How about Columbus. Nada.

Toledo? (I could meet a sibling half way between them and me) Zilch.

Back to the cutting board.

Monday, October 17 was Husband’s day off. I told him what I needed to do and suggested we go to Kroger’s to pick up what I needed to make witch’s hat treats. This would be a Keebler (again) Fudge Stripe Cookie. The bottom of this cookie is chocolate coated. By applying a thin layer of chocolate frosting, I could put a large Hershey’s kiss in the center, to make the point of the hat and embellish it with a contrasting color frosting at the base of the kiss like a crown ribbon.

At Kroger’s we found the cookies, the chocolate frosting, orange spray frosting and zip-lock bags. The only thing we needed were larger than normal chocolate kisses.

Not in the candy aisle. Not in the baking aisle. Not in the seasonal aisle.

Next we tried the local Amish cheese and meat shop since they have an array of candies. No kisses for us.

Now, we are both slamming life in a small town while trying to follow a pattern that was probably imagined in a much larger city where product diversity is better.

Our last stop is my least favorite store – Walmart.

No giant Hershey’s kisses there either. We surmise they must be a Christmas item.

We did find a Walmart brand cookie that was a smaller version of the Fudge Stripe cookie. Maybe we could make a smaller version of the witch’s hat with normal-sized kisses.

Before we leave the cookie aisle, I notice Nutter Butter cookies. I think they could be covered in white frosting to make a ghost cookie. We grab two packages of the small fudge stripe cookie and two of the Nutter Butter and head to the frosting aisle. We gathered vanilla frosting, black spray frosting, (Husband had trouble believing that existed) and regular Hershey’s kisses in our cart.

We head toward the check-outs, until I’m distracted by a large package in a center aisle. It is pumpkin cookies with faces and covered with orange sprinkles made at the in-house bakery. A package of 18 cookies was $3.99. SOLD!

We were considerate shoppers, replacing the cookies and frostings to the proper places in the proper aisles. We bought pumpkin cookies.

This took most of Monday morning. I had had enough of Halloween already.

Tuesday night I came home and found my darling Husband with the card table set up in the living room. Pumpkin cookies were laid out in front of him. Some had spray frosting tracing the face. Others had a spider added. Others I couldn’t distinguish the extra frosting’s decoration.

“Do you want to help decorate cookies?”he asked me.

“No-o! Why are you doing that?”

“Well, we had the spray frosting and I thought, we should use it.”

“Well, have fun.”

He not only decorated the cookies but put each in the required zip-lock bag.

On Thursday, after the successful Wednesday event, I took the cookies to the library before I went to work.

After my trip to New York, I stopped and asked the library staff how the Halloween Party went. They thought between 175 and 200 children attended. Wow! That must be a record.They agreed that that was a higher number than past events.

Tonight, the Friends of the Library had their monthly meeting. Among the information shared was that they had too many cookies. Some were taken home by one of the members to put in her freezer until the next event.

Maybe I’ll finally stop giving in to my Catholic guilt and not volunteer when I’m already stressed.

But, we have the soup and bread tasting coming up in January. My hand automatically shot up when the president asked for a coordinator.

Another action/reaction learned in Catholic School.

 

If you track seasons by the school calendar, summer is over.

Yesterday was the first day of school at the university where I work in the library part-time. My schedule is back to “normal” (compared to no-student parts of summer) where I work 3 hours per night for five consecutive nights. Most Mondays, I work with the library director, but she decided extra hands would be necessary during the day for new students coming in to find textbooks, pick-up ordered books, and activate student IDs for library use.

For more than two hours last night, the library was relatively quiet. Two female students came in, requested reserved texts then moved to the lobby copier to duplicate the chapters needed. The two talked mostly to each other while I continued my work with my back to them. Some of their words filtered through to my brain – funny how my ears perked up as I was meant to be a part of their conversation.

“What is the oldest building on campus?” reached my ears just as another young lady came to the desk to pick up a book she’d requested.

She handed me her ID card. She wasn’t in my computer. I rectified that then moved to checking the book out to her. The computer program would not allow me to do that. “Do you want to override?”

Well, yes. I filled in all the appropriate boxes. “You are not authorized to override.”

That’s what I thought.

The phone rang. In fact, it didn’t just ring, it screamed, “Answer me. Answer me.”

I excused myself from the student standing in front of me, listened to the request from the student on the other end who, of course, did not realize I had others needing my attention. After a few minutes, I requested her patience while I finished with the person standing in front of me.

Before I pushed the hold button, a daily patron came in to use our computers. This would require me to physically sign him into the exact computer he wished to use. I had him sign in then asked him if he could wait until I was done with the phone caller and the other person waiting to check out her book. He waited on a lobby couch.

I went back to the person in front of me to straighten out dueling ID numbers which turned out to be the cause of the computer keeping me from checking out her book. I made sure that I understood how and why she had two numbers so that I could correctly diminish her account to one number, rather than just dealing with her in the most efficient manner for the moment.

I moved back to the phone caller who had trouble understanding that I couldn’t secure a book for her if she didn’t have an activated ID. In the middle of my explanation, my cell phone in my left hand pocket vibrated followed by the robotic voice, “Call from…” I anticipated my husband’s name who would be communicating about supper when I got home in about a half hour. When I heard my brother’s name instead, I tried not to panic. He never calls me. Something happened to mom.

Still, the job comes first (there’s nothing I can do for or about mom when I’m two and a half hours south of where she was). I pardoned myself from the caller without putting her on hold, answered my cell without a “Hello” and started explaining, “Bob, I’m at work and swamped right now. I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”

Back to the student on the phone. She had a few more requests before capitulating that everything might be easier if she came into the library “tomorrow.” She asked my name, as she might request my help when she arrived. I gave it to her acknowledging that I do not work during the day, only in the evening.

Before I’m off the work call, my cell rings again. Same as before – my brother’s name. “Gees. It must be really bad with mom.”

I do not answer.

I finish the student call. I move to sign the waiting patron onto a computer. As I walk into the wing where most of the computers are housed, another student walks toward me and asks, “Are you leaving now?”

“Oh, no.”

“Good, I need you to get my number so I can request books.”

“Do you have some ID? I can’t give out a number unless I know who you are.”

My cell phone makes the coloratura refrain that lets me know a voice message came in.

I sign in one patron onto a computer while continuing to discuss how I will give out a number to a student I don’t know. (“I’m the only one on campus with the name…”)

Seemingly defeated, that student leaves the library.

I pick up my cell phone to hear the voice message. I anticipate my brother’s baritone but instead hear “Crunch, crunch, crunch.”

“This is like a prank call!”

I put my phone to the ear of one student still using the copy machine (remember them?) and say, “Doesn’t sound like someone running to you?”

She agrees.

The records show that I received two calls from my brother. One from his cell, the second from his home number. “Is he in trouble? Is this a signal?”

All I can do is call him back. I leave a message – on both of his phones.

A few minutes later, my cell rings again. My brother.

He had been out running and evidently he “butt dialed” me. (My first!) I immediately thought of the commercial on TV where a woman’s marriage proposal is interrupted by her brother’s butt dialing during his own proposal.

Everything is okay. Everyone is baffled how such a thing could happen (he hardly has any butt).

Ah, all’s well.

Oh, and to the young ladies copying…

“I think Barclay or Bailey.”

“Huh?”

“I think one of those is the oldest building on campus.”

“Oh! I didn’t know you heard us. I thought you were reading.”

“Well, it looked like reading, but it was research.”

It’s going to be a good school year.

 

It wasn’t really a month and a half ago that I last wrote a post, was it? (Yes, Linda, it was.)

It’s not for a shortage of ideas that I haven’t written. It’s just once again, I’ve let summer get away from me. The older I get, the faster time (and therefore, summer) goes. This allows me to explain my hour glass explanation. When one first turns over the hour glass, all the sand is at the top. If one watches, one will see the trickle of sand seeping through the hole to the bottom of the glass, but it doesn’t seem to affect the mound of sand in the top of the glass. However, when the grains are few in the top, it is hard to dismiss how little time is left. Just like aging.

For most of the time this summer, I have holed up with the window air conditioning unit in our bedroom. I. Do. Not. Do. Heat. I’m the one who wanted to move to Alaska. I love winter. My favorite sport while I was growing up was figure skating. One can always put more on to warm up, but comes to a point that nothing more can be taken off and it is still hot. (Sorry for that visual.)

Yesterday some friends and I went to the final concert at the museum. For four Fridays at the end of summer, the Springfield Symphony sponsors music at lunch time. The performance was Good Vibes, a quartet composed of a vibraphone, drums, electronic string bass, and an electric 6-string guitar.

I checked my Fitbit for the time seconds before the music started. I held the button a tad too long and also saw that I had only about 450 steps logged.

At the end, I checked the time again and purposefully checked the number of steps accumulated. I announced to my friends, “I gained 500 steps sitting, listening to the music!” Music literally and figuratively moves me. I don’t even sit still listening to symphonies. I conduct.

As long as I’m talking movement, I am going to take credit for most of the U.S.A. Olympic swim team’s medals. I sit in my recliner in the air conditioned bedroom and move my body to help push and prod the swimmers to glory. I’m glad no one is able to see the choreography I do in my chair.

There’s one more week of Olympics. What sport shall I move on to next? Perhaps Women’s Beach Volleyball? They’re doing pretty well without me. Perhaps I should have watched more of the Women’s Soccer.

We’ve lived in this house, built in 1876, for 20 years. When we moved in, we were astounded by the number of lady bugs occupying the bedrooms. Well, we thought they were lady bugs. Turns out, they were not. They are a cousin known as Japanese lady beetles.

I didn’t mind since I realized WE were the intruders since the home had been vacant for five years prior to our possession.

That is, I didn’t mind until one crawled down the straw of my water bottle and I almost ingested it. Almost because, Boy! Those things are terrible tasting.

They don’t return every year as winter approaches, but a lot of them.

The next stranger came a few years later when I opened the door to the basement and starred at an opossum staring back at me from the landing. It hissed. I slammed the door. I have no idea how it got in (the foundation of the house is stone with gapes) but it must have found its way out. That was a one time observation.

Mice have been a problem some winters. We are a no kill household (except for flies, mosquitos and, in my case, earwigs) so we would catch them and take them close to the river to let them find a new home. We did have one for close to two years we dubbed “Elvis” because he left the… room (not the building) as I pointed him out to Husband. Last winter we found one baby that was quickly caught.

Two summers ago, I ducked as a bat flew around the living and dining rooms while waiting for Husband to get home from work and capture it. I knew he could do it since he had for a neighbor on the west side. He evicted the bat. I went up to bed and found a baby in the bedroom. For the second time that evening, I ducked. Husband caught.

The neighbor on the east side doesn’t like snakes. We’ve told him will come and get them if he finds any. Husband has rescued a few. Brownie has also left us carcasses hanging from the chain link fence separating our properties.

This week, I was proud of myself when Son came into the bedroom where I hole up once we get to air conditioning season since we only have window units. With a grin, he announced that he found a garter snake in the silverware drawer. He didn’t catch it. I slithered under the refrigerator where he couldn’t see it.

I have to admit given the choice among all the critters who have tested our hospitality, the garter snake would probably be the least objectionable to me. I guess I’d be a snake charmer.

 

So,

I have been a member of a book discussion at my local library for a number of years. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month. The discussion meeting time is 7 o’clock. I get off work at 7 o’clock. I just move out of the work library a little faster to get to the local library across town in order to miss as little discussion as possible.
I started this month’s selection, Where’d you go, Bernadette, on Saturday. Husband was working. Son was working. It should have bee a good day to make a decent dent in the number of pages (about 325). I knew it was supposed to be funny and figured parsing it over the four days would keep the book fresh in my mind for discussion.
Well, Saturday, something interrupted reading time, but I still got a little more than 50 pages read.
Sunday, another “emergency” but I still got up to about 125 pages. Almost halfway.
Errands took a chunk out of Monday but I still got up to almost page 200. Fortunately, the book is that enticing to me and I am that invested in it.
Today, Tuesday, I had a doctor’s appointment and lunch with a friend afterwards. Still I got up to page 235.
I had 45 minutes between getting home and going to work. Got to page 260.
I went to work thinking, “Maybe I’ll just read Bernadette at work.” But I couldn’t – I wouldn’t let myself and I did actual library work. I got off at 7 p.m., the same time the Book Discussion is supposed to start with still having 60 pages to read.
“I still don’t know where the book’s going, how it’s going to end. I hope there isn’t a major spoiler that comes out during the discussion.”
I drove  directly to the library where at first I thought, “Wow, lots of people here.” then I noticed half of the parking lot had been resurfaced so that helped the illusion of lots of cars.
I walked into the library, looking to my right to see who’s in the community room and whether they’ve started the discussion but the door was closed and I could not see any light coming from under the door. It was then I refigured.
Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday. The fifteenth. “Wait! That’s the earliest date the third Tuesday book discussion could be – the fifteenth. I’m a week early!”
So instead of going to a discussion having not finished the book, I’ll be able to finish the book tonight.
I love those kind of surprises.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find out where Bernadette went.

A friend called this afternoon to ask me if I would drive her to the emergency room. I told her that I would be right there. I pulled into her drive, she got into the car and looked at me and said, “Did you bring something to read?”

I looked back at her and said, “Who do you think you’re asking?”
Then she laughed and said, “Of course you would.”
The book I’m reading is for my book discussion on Tuesday night. To her, I didn’t seem to be very far along (about 50 pages). I told her that I had read that last night before I went to sleep.
She was taken into the doctoring section while I found a quiet spot (without blaring TV) and read until I heard my name called. My friend wanted me in the room with her. She asked how much I had gotten read. I had better than doubled my count.
For the next 4-1/2 hours, my friend talked almost nonstop. I learned much about her life – stories about her late husband, her sister, our church, and people in the community I might have known. The only breaks were when she went to the restroom and when she had an x-ray taken.
It was decided she would spend the night in the hospital. Before she was taken up to her room for the night, she asked again, “How far are you now, Linda?”
I laughed and said “You’ve talked all afternoon! I haven’t been able to read much since I came back here!”
She laughed.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I have a tough decision to make – read my book or watch the Tony’s. (Thank goodness for commercials.)