Archive for the ‘Planning Ahead’ Category

Back in September—MONTHS and MONTHS ago–I got a little notice from the state informing me that in six months my license would expire. SIX MONTHS! For heavens sake, I had better things to do than worry about things a HALF A YEAR AWAY!

  • Then came October: HALLOWEEN! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came November: My new grandson was born! AND Thanksgiving! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came December: CHRISTMAS! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came January: visiting new grandson! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came February. Valentine’s Day! And work stuff.
    OMG! The damn thing is due next month!

And it happens that my state now demands a vast assortment of documents to prove that I am who I am.
Which I am.
BUT, couldn’t find the birth certificate, and my passport had expired. I sent off for a new one but it turns out this is a procedure that takes 6 weeks if you don’t ask for chop chop service which I foolishly didn’t.
And this is why, dear friends, I spent the morning of my birthday driving to the local hangout of the Department of Motor Vehicles and humbly begging for an extension of my license so that I could continue driving legally until the passport ambles home.
Well, well, at least it didn’t take me 10 years. Odysseus still wins the prize in the procrastination sweepstakes.

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Yesterday was a day when I truly triumphed over adversity! I drink myself a toast! See, the Ghastly 2016 Blizzard loomed, and as I labored in my office–I do not scruple to say, as Holmes says of his brother Mycroft’s value to the British government, occasionally, I AM the Board on Population Health–I pondered the various problems posed by the End of the World As We Know it in Washington DC:

  1. My treasured ticket to Ballet Canada’s Saturday performance must either be exchanged or forfeited.
  2. I would endure the desperate hours of blizzard entrapment WITHOUT the relief of drawing kitty pictures, due to the gradual descent into infirmity and insanity by my iPad.

1. Ballet Ticket
The ballet ticket could be exchanged for a show THAT NIGHT! However, as everyone else with a weekend ticket had the same brilliant notion, the Kennedy Center phone lines were swamped. So, the obvious solution was to go there in person, which I did. There are shuttle buses from the Metro station to the K Center, but it was a bright day, why not walk? Because why, because the K Center is almost impossible to get to on foot, as I gradually realized. It is protected from the vulgar ingress of the lowly by a circlet of high speed expressways. However there is ONE way in, which I eventually found, and was able to storm the gates, exchange my ticket, and make it back to the Metro. This time using the shuttle bus. Success!

2. Drawing Pictures while Trapped in House by Vile Storm
I know some of you will point out that one could use pencil and paper. WHAT?? Are we suddenly transported to some neolithic village? I scoff at such retrogressive notions! No, I needed a replacement tablet! And having visited Best Buy earlier in the week, I decided to just go ahead and BUY the Samsung Tablet (half the price of an iPad, and getting better reviews as a drawing tablet). I paid for it online, and set it up for in-store pick up. And with the precious ballet ticket safely tucked in my bag, I set off for Best Buy–PLENTY of time to get the tablet, get home, feed cats, and then off to the ballet!

3. Best Buy is Run by Incompetents
Once at the store (which has its OWN SUBWAY STOP!) I was directed to get in line at the In Store Pickup Desk. Behind a bunch of disconsolate souls, all looking vexed. There were two bored women at the desk, each having some interminable discussion with a customer. HOURS passed. Well, half an hour. I gradually shed my layers of warm garments (it was HOT in that place) and ground my teeth with impatience. The ballet started at 7, it was now 5:30….Sigh. Once I finally was able to present my order, the gum chewing BestBuyette announced that of course–it was not to be found. However, she located another one on the shelf, and eventually I got out the door, back on the subway, and home to the cats. And then, whoosh, off to the ballet–which was SPLENDID!

And so, I feel a mild glow of accomplishment. Now if only I can master the Android drawing program I just downloaded, my joy will be complete. Very best wishes to you all, as you confront the mighty storm! Here is a storm aid, which should help with the process.

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A prudent plan

I found myself musing on disaster scenarios–someone had mentioned all the dreadful possibilities for which a prudent person might consider preparing for–barring of course, the simple obliteration which does after all take care of all that vexing what to do next business. I was thinking, could WALK somewhere, like my brother’s house, maybe–but, whoa, the cats. Well, I could carry them, I have a little cat carrier, really meant for one but I’m sure they could all squeeze in should it come to that. Except–HEAVY, rather. Aha! I have a little wheel barrow which would work like a charm.

WITH room for provisions for refreshment along the way.
So, I believe I have planned it all out.

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This morning was one to check off horrid chores–done, finally, meeting with the lawyer to update my will. SO NOT the sort of event one welcomes with glad cries! The lawyer, a rather charming man, made comments indicating that he knew well his clients would often prefer to be elsewhere, and that meeting with him did not top anybody’s 10 best lists. And when I told him that my next chore was getting the car’s emissions tested, he thoughtfully noted that had I scheduled a subsequent visit to the dentist, I could have achieved a true trifecta of misery.
But no, the dentist is NEXT week.
It is TAXES we have to confront now.
Still, there is a certain glow of satisfaction in crossing off these two items, both of which I have been avoiding for months.
And, the spring continues strong–the forsythia almost almost in bloom, and crocuses actually blooming, if not in my garden. One might go so far as to put away the long underwear! Or at least, the snow boots. Though I suppose that is just tempting fate.

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I don’t want to startle anyone, but the Holiday Season, once safely many weeks distant, has suddenly LEAPED on us, like a Wild Beast.

ELEVEN days, comrades, separate us from Christmas. Just saying. Those of you who are sitting about thinking vaguely about shopping, SNAP to it.
This first Christmas without my dear love is hard–and not just the sadness, but all the business of Christmas itself. For instance, I took advantage of that charming snow day last week to buy my Christmas tree, and, with Aaron’s help, got it into the house and set up. But, zut alors! The little holder device into whose jaws you insert the stem of the tree was cracked on the bottom, and the water began to ooze out. Not a total catastrophe, as I had set the device onto a large rimmed tray, purchased exactly for this purpose (made of green plastic, helpfully decorated with a Christmas tree so whenever you lunge at it, ready to toss yet another item taking up space in the garage, you are brought up short–OH YES, that’s what it’s for). The leak was slow, and in any case, there was no time to replace the device. So, I kept topping up the water during the week, and the overflow was kept in check by the helpful Christmas tree tray. Then, yesterday I went to the hardware store to get a new stand. Lord! What amazing strides have been made in Christmas Tree Holder devices! There is even one that has a sort of treadle that tilts the tree hither and yon until you are satisfied with its verticality. This item cost over $100. !!!. So, I bought a less exalted stand, brought it home–and BY MYSELF heaved the tree from the failing stand to the proud usurper. This complicated maneuver involved removing the strings with which I inexpertly tied the tree to the window (a pathetic guard against cat attack), unscrewing the bolts, and lifting the ponderous tree out of the holder–without spilling more than a quart or so of water on the floor–and settling it into the new device.

The cats watched, fascinated (WHAT can she be doing? Whatever she does is right of course, but this seems particularly esoteric, no?). During the procedure, I trod heavily on my glasses, which for some reason I had placed on the floor. Well, they needed to be replaced anyway.
Then, the lights!
As usual, half of them quietly expired during the intervening year. ANOTHER trip to the hardware store. I persevered, and the tree is up, lit, and decorated. I even put some lights on the porch, discovering that the grimy extension cord that has been dangling from the front porch ceiling all year STILL WORKS. And there were some ancient and frail hooks hidden up there, ready to bear the weight of a string of lights.
Lawrence used to spend hours lighting up our house; it was the pride of the street. Not any more. But at least, it is not SHAMING the street.
And now, Christmas cards!

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This morning I had an appointment with my financial adviser, a kindly woman engaged by Lawrence, who understands that some people–such as Lawrence and me–have not the capacity to understand finance, but have an abiding respect of it and its practitioners. I trust her to keep the money safe and abundant. She is a good soul.
HOWEVER. Her office is in Virginia. What can I say. I expect to get lost on venturing into Virginia, and I DID get lost on venturing into Virginia. Her office is in Fairfax, and involves a deadly conjunction of Lee Highway and. . .Old Lee Highway. They cross each other, by way of an intricate pathway–announced by a cabalistic street signage that reduced me–already fearful–to a state of fatalistic despair. Why, why, had I not used Bonnie, the antique but still effective GPS personage? The phone! I could use the phone! It had the financial lady’s address, and magically comprehending where I was, told me to MAKE A U-TURN. It took me a few u-turns to finally understand where I was and where I should be headed, but eventually, I made my way to her office. Well, that is to say, to the complex in which her office has its mysterious being. I had to call her and ask where, in that labyrinth, her office was: “I am next to the UPS mail box, on Democracy Lane, ” I told her. “AH! You are right behind my office!” “WHAT?” “Wait, I am coming out to wave at you.”
Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We had our little talk, and I will not have to live on the street in a cardboard box after all.

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Not my best day

Friday I OUTDID myself! You will say, but Hope, can you Gild Refined Gold, Paint the Lily, Throw a Perfume on the Violet?

In a word, yes.

See, I pride myself on my meticulous backpack preparation every workday morning: “Lunch?” CHECK! “Coffee?” CHECK! “Newspaper?” (for reading on the subway) CHECK! “Book?” (for Lunchtime entertainment) CHECK! “Purse?” (with credit cards, etc, for possible shopping–of course ONLY during Lunch hour, and never during work hours) CHECK!

Only, Friday, I forgot the last item. Which would have been fine, except that I had a hair dressing appointment that afternoon. The hair dresser is always extravagantly glad to see me, and professes a keen affection for me. However, I felt sure that this affection did not extend to cutting my hair for free. What to do? I discovered this heinous deficit at 3pm; the appointment was at 4. An hour! Perhaps it would be possible to get home, retrieve the missing article, and DRIVE to the hairdresser in an hour, if the fates smiled on me. I HURTLED to the subway, of course missing the 3:00 train. No matter! I caught the next one, arriving at Friendship Heights JUST in time to miss the 3:30 bus, which however was late, so all was well. But the fare box wasn’t working, and the zealous driver spared no pains in his lengthy endeavors to mend it. Click THIS button? Thump THAT corner? I could feel the time speeding away, but managed to stifle my vexation. Once enroute, I called the hairdresser who generously allowed me a 15 minute extension. Dismounting at my bus stop (3:45pm), I trotted home, shouted a brisk Hello Goodbye to the astonished cats and drove off in my little yellow Mini, back to Friendship Heights where the hairdressing place is (handy, you see. For people who don’t forget to bring their wallets to work.)

Well, it turns out that 3:50 is EXACTLY the time when the school buses come out to play. There were two dawdling down the avenue ahead of me, speeding up whenever I tried to pass them, and then going into their manic blinky blinky wing-extending routine which means that all good citizens stop dead and wait for the pimply youths to slouch out of their buses and lounge along the street. Despair! However, you will be happy to hear that despite the traffic and the malicious school buses, I entered the parking lot at FriendshipHeights at 4:10, and was briskly marching into the hair salon at 4:15. Possibly, 4:16.

Of course, I had forgotten to get cash for the tips–these places are very firm about tips being cash, almost making one think they don’t report their earnings–but this was solved with an old fashioned check.

Once home, I was assailed by weariness, and reclined on the sofa (taking care of course not to disarray my elegant coiffure) administering alcoholic beverages to fortify the humours.

This was, as always, a LEARNING experience. Or so I tell myself.


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