September 25, 2011

For My Father

Like father like daughter, we hide
behind gray puffs of smoke,
crave the acrid spice of nicotine.
His is Misty menthol,
mine Misty light.

A nasty habit that oddly comforts me
as once a month arrived
a slim white envelope
bearing his handwriting,
tidy, neat and even strokes
like ripples on a pond,
mailed from Pennsylvania
to Carolina, where cigarettes
were half the price.

I fed his addiction,
a ruse to keep his letters
binding him to me,
by a long distance cord
of a slim white paper cigarette.
Always bringing back,

Pictures in my mind,
scattering in slow motion through
a kaleidoscope, where
I could see him young with hair
untouched by grey,
tall and strong,
my anchor in the wind.

Take me for a ride daddy,
and he lifts me up into the air
high above his head
I will never let you fall,
higher still he thrusts me to the sky
beyond the billowy puffs of clouds
Now just reach for any star,
they’re all yours, he said
then taught me how to make them mine.

I went away to gather tiles
to build the mosaic of my life,
minutes vanished into days
years withered into air,
his hair now grey as evening sky,
bent and weak, he is
a pillar toppled by a winter breeze.

The letters stopped years ago, but in my    
mind  they still come
connecting us by a long distance cord
A slim white papered cigarette -
his is Misty menthol, mine is Misty light
and when night time shadows fall,
billowy clouds  will always smoke
behind the stars that he made mine. 

I love you daddy

September 14, 2011

Guilty Sunday Blues

Instead of sitting in church, we are sitting in our car traveling north on Highway 52 from Winston-Salem. Our final destination is the winery at Chateau Morrisette which is nestled in a valley a short distance from milepost 171.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Virginia. Once there, my husband, daughter and I will indulge in one of the best Sunday Brunches that I have ever had (not to mention awesome wine tasting). Before we arrive at this destination, I indulge in another ulterior motive for our adventure – antiquing and junqueing along the highway through Mount Airy, North Carolina and Cana, Virginia. Read more at All Things Girl online

September 11, 2011

Remembering New York and 9/11

1928 View Wall Street
On this eleventh day of September 2015, I will say a prayer and remember. I will remind myself that life can be taken from us at any given moment and I will try to treasure this day. 

As a child I lived in Pennsylvania in a tiny town near the center of my father's large family. My mother's family was less than three hours away, in New Jersey and New York City. I grew up in a contrast of languages, my father's Pennsylvania Dutch, and my mother's Slovak, Polish, Russian, and other languages which confused me even more. I loved going on long extended visits to see my New York relatives. The sounds, smells, and sights of the city became embedded beneath my skin. After we moved to Florida, I quickly adapted to southern living and culture. As a young adult I got to travel to many places, some exotic, and some not so exotic. But this is how we grow, how the world goes around, changing places and changing faces.

I traveled to New York City on a fairly regular basis throughout my adult life as it is one of the main retail centers in the world. I had to be there during every major market week and many smaller mini-markets throughout the year. My first office in New York City was in the Empire State Building, on the 79th floor. One particular elevator always seemed eerie to me. Sometimes the noise seemed deafening, particularly on the rare occasions when I was the only one in the elevator. I also hated walking the winding corridor to the ladies room where heat and more noise radiated through the walls. The July of the first year after I joined the company, I found out why, although I was still in Chicago packing for a trip to the Big Apple. Parade magazine ran a big article on the military plane that crashed into the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945 --- smack dab into the 79th floor leaving a gaping hole 18 feet high and 20 feet wide and destroying the offices along the corridor to the ladies room.

Manhatten 1928
I had other offices, one on the Avenue of Americas, and one across fro the World Trade Center. I used to stop in the deli there for a bagel or breakfast sandwich. Occasionally I even had business meetings at the Trade Center, and friends. I left the corporate world for good when I opened my antique shop, but never forgot the excitement, or sounds, smells and sights of New York City.

In August of 2001, my husband and I had decided to move to another part of North Carolina and had just begun the process of purchasing a plantation and estate, looking to turn it into a B&B along with selling antiques. We had just returned from a final view of the property before making an offer when 911 happened. I know that the world stopped for many people on that day which forever altered our lives from one corner of the globe to the other. For me and my family, we stopped and took a long look around us and realized that home to us, was right where we were and should be.

Ground Zero 1928
Now ten years later, I realize even more how dramatically my life changed. I went back to College and then on to earn my MFA. I made many changes, some difficult and some because the world as we knew it, had changed. We are and will continue to be in a constant change of flux,

On this eleventh day of September 2015, the cloudless sky is crystal blue, the air holds a hint of the fall season soon to come. Summer still lingers, but shadows dance upon the walls minutes earlier then the day before. I imagine at the ground zero sight, at a field in Pennsylvania, and where ever people lost their lives on this fateful day, thousands of shadows dancing and I hope that they are at peace, hope they are at rest. 

September 10, 2011

Communications Error PART III

A Comedy of Errors
To say that I am not happy right now, is an understatement.

Pure and simple, the companies that supply my cell phone lines (4), my landline (1) which also happens to be my Internet connection, and now my bank  - SUCK.

Having made this announcement, I am certain my service will go from pathetic, to worse. I mention my bank because they keep coming up with new ways to keep my money.

After my last post on Communication Error Part II, my cell and land line service almost seized to exist.  

This week did not start out very well. I had no bars on my 4G cell phone, and my land line had no dial tone. Although I was able to get on the internet with some of my computers, the internet speed was less then 1400 kbps. My land phone though, was dead (except if you attempted to call the number, you would get a busy signal).

First, T Mobile. Over the course of the past few months, due to many issues including being billed for text from a place called Mauritania, I connected with a supervisor named “Jennifer.”  She has supposedly been overseeing my account because of the problems. So much for promises, such as free phones for renewing your contract, and that “Don’t worry, I have everything under control,” she tells me, and for a while I thought she did and did not worry. Our last conversation was that she would call me on September 2nd. I guess she meant a different year then 2011.

Moo Yorkie
But this isn't the half of it because I elected to go paperless billing and my T Mobile bill is still mysteriously not available to me, although it claims I owe them $444.00 (less change) for current charges. The bill was $644.00 but they evidently applied a credit of $200.00 based on a phone I purchased in July and which, instead of applying my charge card purchase to the phone, they applied it to a bill which did not generate until 11 days later (but they did ship my phone).

So beginning Monday, and successive days throughout the week, I spoke with numerous customer reps who had thick accents. After hours of trying to explain my months of T Mobile hell and nightmares, my connection with said reps, was dropped. Whether or not they cut me off (which, has happened often in the past) is another issue.

I am getting extremely tired of speaking with people who are very difficult to understand and I am still waiting to view a valid bill.

But at least the outcome with Windstream – my landline and Internet carrier – faired better. 

It isn’t that I care about my land line although it my connection to the Internet, but I have had this number for almost 20 years and my family often forgets our cell phone numbers. I also keep this landline because on occasion, I accept credit card purchases in my shop.

I wont though after January 1, 2012.  Accept credi card purchases that is. Not when my bank (BB&T) sent me a letter informing me that they must keep 28% (known as Federal backup withholding). 


They already charge me $5.00 a month for the sheer pleasure of using a credit card machine. They already charge me a pass through fee meaning just swiping a card through the machine. They already charge me $5.99 a month for being in Compliance. They already charge me a base fee of $15.00 a month as a minimal charge for Charges/debits. They already charge me an additional fee for said credit/debits of up to 6% a month depending upon the credit/debit card name/company. Not to mention that my previously free checking is no longer free and should I wish to pay by check, said check will cost $.18 per check to write. In short, I loose between $400.00 and $800.00 a year for doing business with them.

I Have a Headache
 So much for being a loyal customer. Which is why my cell phone company, my land line company, and my bank, who all want my business, suck. 

September 1, 2011

Cell Phones, Landlines, and Communications Error Part II

Help. Get me out PLEASE!
I have been a loyal customer of TMobile who bought out SunCom and before that I had Verizon, who screwed me royally. I won’t go into that but it was about “only the primary number" had allocated minutes and subsequently I was charged $600.00 for additional minutes, although my total minutes were unused.

The explanation was very simple – the line who used the minutes was not the primary number.

I will fast forward to the present and the past three months which have totally sucked up every ounce of patience I thought I had.

This particular time (yes – there was another ugly time when I tried to go wireless (and if you care to read about it – click on Communications Error by Bev Hamel), has been abysmal. It’s true, history does repeat itself, particularly on Sunday afternoons when I clean up my computer from a weeks worth of internet surfing, or when my cell phone contract is about to expire and I need to make a decision whether to stay with my current company, or not.

We are!
Up until a few months ago, I had been happy with my cell phone carrier, T Mobile. I had not been happy with my two teenage daughters and their cell phone usage, but I was safe – I had family allowances and could control their usage. What I couldn’t control was their carelessness in taking care of their cell phones. There have been mysteriously broken phones, dropped phones in places where one does not want to go fishing, not to mention confiscated phones that only a parental figure can reclaim. We have had stolen phones and phones that disintegrated through wear and tear – but no one admits to being responsible.

This is not T Mobile’s fault, but the unauthorized text messages and charges to my account when parental controls were in place, is. No one in my family knows any one from Mauritania, nor do we even know where it is though through Googling the number and name, Mauritania is a country in West Africa and an Islamic Republic.

Not one of us received a message – just a charge. Okay so $.20 is nothing, but it does add up. The first time I called customer service, I was told – text back to “STOP.”

“How do I do that? The phone doesn’t ring and there is no record of receiving the message on our actual phones. The only way I know about this is because the charges are on my bill!”

“That is not possible,” a very thickly accented voice replies.

Where is Muriatania?
“Can you explain to me why I have my phone turned off and I am asleep at 3:00 in the morning? In fact all my other three cell phone users are asleep as well. Can’t you stop this?”

“No,” the voice said. ”We can’t block International calling or text, besides you have parental control and family allowances.”  

I'd rather have the parental controls.  The messages continued and so did the charges. I continued to spend quality time on the phone with T Mobile customer service. requesting the charges be removed. Every person I spoke with had a different solution.

So, this was my first problem – I talked to many customer service people until I demanded a supervisor. But it still took hours, days and weeks to resolve. I am not sure if this was finally resolved because  I condescended to renewing my contract, getting new phones, adding an unlimited text and data plan for my family, with the exception that the two teenage people in my family  - have 500 minutes each. One of these people used the minutes in a few days, and although the text messaging was unlimited, the other teenaged person, made international calls to Morocco (which were not in the plan), while the male parental figure accidentally downloaded a bloat ware app though I told him the Android Market is loaded with free apps.

Ok, so I love my new Khaki Slide!
This, though is not the last straw. It seems somehow, my new family plan racked up a whopping $653.00 bill this month.  It seems there was a little bit of communication error, between customer service reps and supervisors, not to mention it turned out the free phones we were suppose to receive, weren't free after all.

If only this was all, and I wont go into detail, but between the severe storms, earthquake, my Windstream land line and broad band connection went puff! New phones, new modem, new plan, and two weeks later, a new bill, I am ready to become a hermit.

However, we no longer have text messages from Mauritania showing up. They are now coming from EGYPT!