Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Autumn has finally arrived in the trees outside the apartment. The pine needles on the larches have turned into rust and started to  drop.  Another seasonal signal here is the mess the live oaks make with their indestructible leather leaves and tiny acorns which get crushed underfoot all over our paths.  My mother would have a field day with her broom.  This was a lady who swept cherry blossom off the lawn. That said, it seems that everything else still flourishes and continues to grow at a galloping rate. Even the said trees only manage to just thin themselves out ready for the Florida winter: if you weren't scrutinising them you'd never notice. We don't do 'season's of mists and mellow fruitfulness' over here but, then again, neither do we do frost and ice and snow and and you can keep that.

As always I can't believe the best part of a month has gone by since I was last doing this and I'm beginning to wonder if Ken isn't drugging my tea and I'm losing whole days.  This would also explain why I never know what day of the week it is.

Looking back through my diary this should be the shortest piece ever as I can't find anything vaguely interesting to relate but when did that ever stop me?

I left you on the day our air con unit and water heater were replaced.  It was a great piece of work - two men and bing, bang, bosh indoors and out and it was all done.  In and out like a fiddlers elbow. The same certainly can't be said for the chaos I am sitting in today typing this. We have the decorators in.  They are doing the whole place.  Handy tip, have one room at a time done!

We got three quotes which all came in within $50 of each other.  This made it really hard to decide on who to hire. I fancied ol' blue eyes simply because I fancied ol' blue eyes but we went with the first guy - Sam.  He had spent the most time doing the quote so he seemed to listen properly and appeared to be the keenest.  He was also the one who followed up a couple of times during the next week while we were waiting for other people to quote. As usual with these things by day one we had realised it was just a good sales pitch. In the interim days we had coughed up $900 for materials which was instantly cashed and when I tried to get a couple of queries answered it was like writing osame-fuda paper prayers. On day one (yesterday) the promised 'three men for three days' became one man for Monday - garrulous Gary - who is a one man moaning band.

Without a backward glance we had enough sense to abandon him and flee to our lunch and the shops. Same plan quickly formed up for today. Gary arrived at 8 am, which meant us getting up at 7 am, (for us this is the crack of dawn!).  He then proceeded to natter to Ken for 35 minutes before lifting a brush. We fled again to a long lunch and a trawl round consignment shops. Right now it is four o'clock and my weary bones are settled into my chair in the only room pretty much untouched by the wrath of vinyl warriors. There was better news today though, as I've already said Gary arrived at 8 am and then shortly after that son of Sam popped in and another painter joined them and  son of Sam left!  While we were out hiding from them another guy arrived so when we got back there was Gary plus two (!) wielding the brushes. Hey presto, finally, three men.  Even with the ad hoc additional 'staff' I don't have a hope in hell of seeing the back of them tomorrow and as the next day is Thanksgiving... ???? As I said to a friend in an email today -good job we don't have our usual sixty guests for a sit-down full-on Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday; or do Ken and I usually just go to Cracker Barrel? I can't remember.

The Saga of Gary and his Jolly Rollers is ....to be continued.... 

As I said at the beginning I have nothing thrilling to report. My diary is just full of all the usual stuff and nothing in particular stands out other than November is my birthday month. My birthday is actually a birthweek. In my family the cards stay up for a week to allow any tardy card or gift givers time to catch up (!) This means additional birthday treats are also allowed during that time. Seems eminently sensible to me. My 66th segued into about ten days this time. Everyone came up trumps with gifts and cards in good time. Even my chap was able to present me with red roses at breakfast as he'd sneaked out the previous evening on the pretext of a bike ride to buy them and hide them overnight.

The extended extension (!) began with one of my many gifts from Ken arriving the following day. I had mentioned that I fancied some little Reutter dishes (1/12th) on sale on E-Bay but I was too cheap to pay the price asked so he bought them for me and, even though they didn't manage to arrive in time, I was thrilled to bits. He is a little gem.

He'd also booked dinner at one of the best restaurants on 5th Avenue (Verginas) but I cried off. For me it would have just been a trial. We went once years ago, probably another birthday; they were quiet snotty as we are obviously neither rich nor famous. I suspect if you are both you'll get the very best obsequious treatment.   In addition - here comes every woman's crie de coeur - I haven't anything to wear. In my case this is absolutely true. I am thirty plus pounds lighter and three sizes smaller than last year. Verginas is the sort of place which demands that elegant understated New England linenessity (just made that up so don't bother looking it up, you'll either know what I mean or... (Ken) not). I have one set of (bargain) dressy clothes for the Phil which is far too dressed up for Verginas. So the fretting about it 
all day and then the not brilliant evening wasn't the birthday I wanted. I persuaded him to cancel and, to his despair, I chose one of our regular eateries - Grand Buffet. This is a cheap all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet but it does have crab legs at the weekend. It was great.

In the already established Ormson we-know-how-to-do-a-birthday mode of taking my mother around Staples (stationery shop) on her 80th, we decided to include a trip to Home Depot for paint samples. I had a lovely day. I did no chores whatsoever, fed my face full to busting on crabs legs and played at rainbow painting the apartment. Sounds like a second childhood?

Five days later we went to the Phil for an excellent concert. 
 Mozart's beautiful Piano Concerto No. 18,  Rimsky-Korsakov's intoxicating Scheherazade, Berlioz's dramatic Overture to the opera Benvenuto Cellini. Three wonderful pieces. That in itself is a rare find. I usually suffer two boring or show-offy ones for one good one. We also always go to the pre-concert talk by the conductor, which is not only informative but always amusing.  Jorge Mester in particular has a dry and ready wit. He also takes a moment to talk to his guest performer. This time it was Soyeon Lee who also amused and elaborated on the music and her performance.  She had been asked by Mester to learn the piece for this concert as it wasn't in her repertoire.  She said it was one she hadn't even heard.  When asked by an audience member she also said that it takes about a week to 'learn the notes' and then it is a case of playing it whenever you can using the score (without benefit of orchestra) until it becomes a part of your body.  It might be worth noting she played without any music.  She is a delight to watch as well as to hear.  The resulting piece was truly beautiful. She didn't wear the famous dress (take a minute to look at this).

On November 9th the following happened:

Emergency Alert System Nationwide Test (EAS)

The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place on November 9, 2011 at 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system in alerting the public. This national-level EAS is a national public alert and warning system that enables the President of the United States to address the American public during extreme emergencies.

On November 9, Comcast customers and the public will hear a message indicating that "This is a test." The audio message will repeat “This is a test.” The video message scroll may not indicate “This is a test.” The video text is likely to inform viewers that authorities have issued an “Emergency Action Notification.”

Regular programming will resume once the EAS test concludes. The audio message will be the same for both radio and television. The test may look like regular, local EAS tests that most people are already familiar with, but there will be some differences in what viewers will see and hear.

As a disaster warning it was pretty much a disaster in itself.  Some stations didn't play it, others played it longer or shorter than they should.  Ken tells me that there is a Florida one done every month.  When I asked him why, in eleven years, I hadn't a clue that there was a pretend Florida tragedy each month he said - we don't watch TV in the daytime.  So - basically it is a great idea for promoting daytime TV or  radio.  The quiet people will just have to blow up or fry or whatever it is we are supposed to be avoiding if a tragedy occurs before 8 pm.  No, I don't have an idea for alerting quiet people other than very refined softly spoken gentlefolk dropping off a nicely printed deckle-edged card signed by the President.  Will I have to RSVP?

To finish I'll flit back to today.  I bought a very nice jacket from a consignment shop. I am turning into my mother.  I promise you it is a new one - honestly.  It is all very bright and very Floridy - not a bit like me.  This reminds me to tell you about my best bargains ever.... a couple of weeks ago we went to see if Bealls Outlets at Pine Ridge had gone as we had been told by two different sources that it had: any way it was still there, so we went In for a trawl.  I managed to get  Lucy a couple of cute things for pennies and, for me, I got  two tops and one pair of trousers. Here comes the bargain of bargains. The trousers were reduced to 50 cents......  there was 95% off the original discounted price and then after that I got the usual Monday's old person fifteen per cent off and then I  had a five dollar voucher for being a good customer.  There are days at Bealls they pay you to take stuff away.  

Even our avoid-the-painters lunches are bargains.  Yesterday we had lunch at First Watch and used my get a lunch free coupon.  Technically it was out of date but over here - no problem - that's fine.  Today we ate at Perkins with a 20% coupon.  Tomorrow we might use our Groupon coupon for 5th Avenue Deli which gets us $26 worth of lunch for $10.  This is proving to be a tough decision as we fancy trying a Greek restaurant on Davis.  We still have thirteen buy one get one free Subway coupons, and half a dozen discount coupons for Beef O'Brady's.  There's just not enough meals in the day to save money!

So on with the motley.  Talk to you again soon.

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