This girl is funny...not skinny.

This girl is funny...not skinny.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lunch at my mom's reminds me why I fear becoming my parents!

Good morning!

Many years ago my extended family through a 50th wedding anniversary for my grandparents.  As with any large family, there's a shorthand both in word and action, that family members understand but that outsiders or "married ins" do not.  This wedding anniversary was a big undertaking and a bit stressful for all concerned, plus we were on a very strict timeline.  There was no time to explain much to those who didn't get it. I remember seeing my older cousin, newly married, turning to his new wife and yelling, "Because it just it that way.  You have to stop asking why!  It just is the way it is."

I'll give Hubby props. Over the years he's managed to meld into the family and not stir things up by asking "Why" too often.  And believe me, there have been plenty of times he could have.  Like, for example, lunch at my mother's house yesterday.

Since I'm between jobs, I'm spending some time tidying up little messes that pop up and get pushed aside. One of those messes would be Skippy's work pants.  He basically has one pair of uniform pants he wears to work all the time.  I've tried mending them, but at this point there's more of my mending than there is actual pants.  So he got new pants from work and, being generic uniform pants, they need to be hemmed.  Now, I could hem them, but honestly, it would take me days whereas my mother has a sewing machine.  She can do it in minutes.

Thus, I made the trek to my parents' home yesterday, right around lunch time.  We had polite chit chat, Mom showed me her new art project, which is cool and we'll discuss more a different day.  W talked about computers and their Netflix account.  

Let me explain:  Hubby and I got them a Netflix account for Christmas because my Dad loves documentaries and my mom loves movies.  However, operating their Netflix account is fast becoming more trouble than it's worth.  Seriously, how can anyone not understand?  You turn on your TV.  You turn on your Blu ray player.  You go to Netflix.  You see the picture of the movie you want to see.  You click on it and watch the movie.  That's it.  But no, my parents, both college educated teachers, both well read adults, both people who are in every other way fully functioning humans, can't seem to grasp their Netflix account.

So we talked about that.  And then it was lunch time.  

Lunch time at my parents' home means soup and sandwiches.  I like soup and sandwiches so I happily helped Mom put lunch together.  

"Get the mayo and the mustard out of the fridge" she told me.

I found the mayo just fine, in a labeled jar with a recognizable logo.  The mustard, however, was a different thing.  That was in a plain glass jar, one that had once been a peanut butter jar...like thirty years ago.  (My mom didn't grow up during the recycling era.  She grew during the "if you can use it again, don't throw it out" era.)  

Pulling the yellow mustard in a plain glass jar I ask, "What is happening here with your mustard, mom?"

"Oh, well, I hate those squeeze bottles," she says,  "It's hard to squeeze and the first six time you squeeze it you just get liquid and that's gross, so I put it in the glass jar.  It tastes just the same."
Look, it's a jar...with a label!


"It tastes just the same" has been my mother's mantra forever.  No, Mom, the hamburgers Dad charred to briquette status does not taste the same as Burger King.  And no, your baked, skinless chicken is NOTHING like KFC.  Now, while I might agree with you about the mustard in the jar, I have to just wonder why you don't just buy, you know, mustard in a jar.

"What would you like to drink?"  she asks.

If you've read my first book, Dream in Color you'll know this is a question my mother asks quite often and I have no good answer for it.  Water, I think, is a safe answer most of the time.  So I say water.

"I'll have water with some lemon in it."

She proceeds to get the "chilled water" out of the fridge.  Back in 1990 my parents bought a six pack of Snapple.  Since then they've used those bottles to chill water in the fridge.  No more Snapple in the house...just the bottle.  She pours herself a glass and then she gets lemon juice out of the fridge.

What, you thought she had a fresh lemon she was going to cut up?  Please.

And when I say she gets lemon juice out of the fridge I mean she gets a little jar, one I remember used to hold jam when I ten, that seems to contain a very cloudy yellow fluid.  I don't want to say what it reminded me of.  She pours about six drops of the cloudy fluid into her water.  I stare at her.

"What?" she asks.

"Ma, what is going on with this lemon juice?"

"Oh, well, see we couldn't find THIS lemon juice," she pulls a plastic squeeze bottle of Minute Maid lemon juice out of the fridge.  "So we got a fresh lemon and squeezed it and I'm using that."

I sniff the contents of the jar.  Honestly, I'm surprised it actually smells like lemons.

"Okay, now go make your father's sandwich."

"Yeah, I'm not doing that." My father is perfectly capable of putting mayonaise and ham on a piece of bread.  I'm not going to encourage any mental downslide by assembling his sandwich.

"Well, okay, but I always make his sandwich."

After a perfectly lovely lunch where my father made his own sandwich I left for home.  I pulled out of the driveway wondering if I one day would be putting mustard in a thirty year old glass jar or squeezing fresh lemon juice into a jam jar.  I do know this:  I'm not assembling a ham sandwich for Hubby...again. Yep, that's not happening again. I need to NOT turn into my parents!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Getting hacked would be less hassle.

Good afternoon!

And some of you thought this blog would get boring now that I am no longer employed at my former employer's place of employment.

HA!

Turns out, this blog is only going to get boring if I die because, one would think, once I'm gone to my Great Reward, nothing on this earth can possibly make my life hilarious.  Because, once I'm dead, you know, one would think I wouldn't have a life to make hilarious.

But, until that time...stuff like this will continue to happen.

So recently I received a notice from my bank that my debit card, the card I use to do pretty much all of my shopping now that I'm almost to a point where I don't need to use credit cards (ahhhhh, it's nice, or it will be by the end of 2015) had been 'compromised' because a store I used said card at had been 'compromised." (I'm not an idiot.  Since I don't shop at Home Depot, the only other place that's been 'compromised' that I would have used my card is Target. Now, it could be the other place I use my card, but I have heard that Partylite's been 'compromised.'  Guess that means Partylite's computer security is far better than Target's.  Oh, and Target sells Yankee candles.  Partylite only sells Partylite candles.  I'm just sayin'.)  To protect me from fraud, my bank, the letter announced, would be sending me a new debit card in the mail soon.

I got that card in yesterday's mail.  I was instructed to call a 1-800 number to activate the card.  I've activated probably 3 or 4 dozen credit and debit cards over the years.  This phone was going to take all over three minutes.  I planned to do it during a commercial break of the Bob and Brian radio show on 1029 the Hog.

And that's where this story goes off the rails.

Call #1

Dial 1-800 number.  Enter first six digits of card.  Enter last four digits of card.  Enter zip code.  Enter last four of my social  Sit on hold two minutes.  Get a live person who asks for the following:  The card number.  My birthday.  Last four of my social..  My mother's maiden name.  I give her all that.  She says, "Hey, great.  Card is activated. Now, to set up your pin you have to go through the automated system. I'm going to pop you over there."

I'm on hold another minute.  Then I'm asked to enter the following information:Enter first six digits of card.  Enter last four digits of card.  Enter zip code.  Enter last four of my social  Sit on hold two minutes.   Get a live person who asks for the following:  The card number.  My birthday.  Last four of my social..  My mother's maiden name.  I give her all that.  She says, "Oh, I just talked to you."

I ask if she can set up my pin.  She says, "No. People can't help you set up your pin.  You have to call this number."

She gives me the number.  It's the same number I just dialed.  I tell her that. She says, "Well, you have to call and this time the automated system will set up your pin.

Call #2
Dial 1-800 number.  Enter first six digits of card.  Enter last four digits of card.  Enter zip code.  Enter last four of my social  Sit on hold two minutes.  Get a live person who asks for the following:  The card number.  My birthday.  Last four of my social..  My mother's maiden name.  I start to give the man who answers all that, and then I stop and say, "Are you helping me set up my pin?"

He says, "No.  A person can't do that. Only the automated system can."

I explain to him that I've been through this.  He says, "Well then there's something wrong and you have to call your bank."

Call #3
I call my bank.  I get Melissa. I explain to Melissa my previous two calls.  She says, "Yes, I see you called the 800 number.  Now, what number were you calling from?"

I only have one number.  It's my cell.

Melissa says, "Oh, that's the problem. I have your number as being different so we have to update the phone number.  Give the system ten minutes then call the 800 number again."

Call #4
32 minutes later I call the 800 number again.  I'm asked for the first six and the last four of my card number. Then I'm asked for the last four of my social. The automated system then says it doesn't recognize the last four of my social and I need to call my bank.

Call #5

I call the bank.  I get Shelley.  I explain to Shelley, this time with a bit of a "tone" in my voice, what's gone on.  Shelley hems and haws a bit and then says, "Well maybe you're dialing too fast.  Try calling the 800 number again and this time dial more slowly."

I can't help it.  I have to mock this.  "I'm sorry...dial more slowly?  That's going to fix this?"

"Ummmm, maybe?"

"Shelley, can't you just set up my pin?"

"Oh no.  People can't set up your pin.  Only the automated system can."

"Okay, Shelley, but if I have to call here again I'm going to be less happy than I am now."

Call #6

I call the 800 number. I'm asked for the first six and the last four of my card number. Then I'm asked for the last four of my social. The automated system then says it doesn't recognize the last four of my social and I need to call my bank.

Call #7

I call the bank again. This time I get Melissa again.  I inform her that, as promised, I am less happy than I was when I spoke to Shelley.  Eager to get rid of me, (hey, I've been in customer service...I know when someone is trying to get rid of you.) she passes me to Beth in card services.

Now, Beth is a far better match for me.  She's war weary from years of dealing with messes on the phone.  She's older, and she's a take no crap kind of person.  She also sort of starts out crabby with me and I'm explaining my saga  (have I mentioned at this point an hour has gone by since my first call?)

I really want to take her down.

"Mrs. Bradley I don't see any record that you called the 800 number beyond the first call an hour ago."

"Beth, I'm looking at my cell phone record and I see that I've called that number twice in the last ten minutes. This is my 7th call about this and just because you can't see that I've made the calls doesn't mean I haven't."

"Well I don't see that you have."

Oh she's good.  "Beth, here's the thing:  I need my pin set up. Can you do that?"

"Well no. Only the automated system can.  It's for your protection."

"Right. Like this new card is for my protection."

"Yes.  To protect you from fraud."

"But who is going to protect me from your faulty automated system?  It should never take seven phone calls to get a pin set up."

"Well, the first three were to get your phone number corrected."

At this point I do believe blood is pouring out of my eyes.  "Okay, Beth, can you help me or not?"

"No. I can't. Because you're on your phone."

"Yes, I am. I have to be to be talking to you, Beth."

"Well, you're on your phone so I can't help you."

Okay, later this was explained to me, but for the moment that's all she said and frankly, I was about done with Beth.  "So, Beth, how can you help me?"

"I really can't."

"So what can I do, then, Beth?"

 "You could wait until tomorrow to let the system reset itself."

I could. I could do that.  Meanwhile, I have no access to my cash and I can't shop at Woodman's grocery because they only take debit or cash.  So hey, as long as I don't need cash today (which I do) and I don't need anything at the grocery store (which I probably do) no problem. Just let me have no access until tomorrow. Oh, wait, tomorrow is Saturday...so probably, really, no access to actual cash until MONDAY.

I take a deep breath, calm my internal rant, and say, "I'm sorry, Beth, I'm not going to be able to wait a full day to have access to the money that is mine."

"Well, you could come down to the branch and talk to a personal banker. They MIGHT be able to help you."

"Really, Beth?  Will they be able to set up my pin?"

I feel your pain.
"No, only the automated system can do that.  It's for your protection."

So the phone call that was going to take three minutes has now blossomed, after more than a hour, into a trip to the bank.  

I go to the bank. I go to Mary, the information desk lady.  I explain, as calmly as I can, although I know for a fact I sound a lot like the mother in the first "Home Alone" movie when she calls the local police and tries to get them to help her, I'm barely holding it in. Mary gets on the phone to Beth.  They talk for a couple minutes and then she hangs up and gives me that endearing smile that pretty much looks like one I'd give a child.  "See, Beth couldn't help you because you were on the phone you had to call the automated system with.  If you'd been on another phone, then Beth could have walked you through it by phone."

I would like to now find Beth's car and write something unflattering in the salt residue on her windows.  (See, here in Wisconsin, we put salt down on the roads to melt the snow.  Everyone's car around here has a crusty salt residue but we can't wash it off all that often because it's too cold for car washes.)

I'm then directed to Bianca, the personal banker.  I explain to Bianca all seven phone calls and why I'm sitting in her cubicle 90 minutes after my first phone call.  She takes me into the conference room. We then dial the 800 number.

And everything works just peachy keen and perfect.  I'm not kidding.  Bianca did the dialing and everything went through just fine.  I don't know what sort of voodoo she worked on the automated system, but I can promise you this: The next time my bank decides to protect me from hackers, I'm just going to go down to Bianca's cubicle and have her activate my card.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hubby Comes up with Something Brilliant...and it confuses Sarah.

Good evening!

Well, American Football fans, I'm heartbroken today.  My Green Bay Packers lost a very close, very good championship game and will not be going to the Superbowl this year.

But there's always next year, right?  And speaking of next year, as you know, February 2, a date that is slowly creeping up on us, is the official kick off to "TAKE IT DOWN" season.  I'm rather looking forward to it, since there isn't much else to look forward to here in the northern section of the US.  It's cold, it's gray, the days are short, the snow is sloppy, and the holidays are over.  Which means the lights are no longer twinkling.

It's been a rough winter for me, personally, and I could use a few twinkle lights right about now. I mean, the Packers lost, I lost my job, my house is a mess because being unemployed means you get to dig into all those cleaning and simplifying projects you've been putting off...but it doesn't mean you get to finish them.  So every room has either an empty plastic box in the middle of the room, several piles of books, papers, and general rubbish in a loose stab at sorting, or both.  And the twinkle lights on my house, while they are still up, they are no longer on and our neighborhood looks dreary.

SO pretty!
We are two weeks away from the kick off to my favorite time of the year:  TAKE IT DOWN season, and all I want is a city full of happy, multicolored strings of lights or white icicle lights or a good mix of both.  

Hubby came up with a brilliant idea.  At least, I thought it was brilliant, but now I'm confused. See what you think:

He suggested yesterday that instead of celebrating Christmas on December 25, we extend it to January 25.  That way, the happy twinkle lights could stay up through the worst month of winter, January, and everyone's festive, cheerful mood could continue for another month. Some eateries around here are keeping the lights up as is the City of Waukesha...I love the giant lit up snowflakes...and believe me, it does a heart good to see these lights.  

SO pretty.
He didn't mention it, but it got me to thinking, if we move Christmas, that would ease up the whole
"Happy Holidays" business, because hey, it makes more room for other holidays in December and gives the Christmas folks time after the first of the year to say "Merry Christmas."  Also, think of the retail business, the longer stretch of higher buying, if we extend it into the new year.  

SO NOT pretty!
Christmas doesn't HAVE to be on the 25th of December.  Just because it has been for eons, it can be moved.  I mean, it's not like my birthday...which was set on a date.  Jesus' birthday is celebrated when it is because it sort of lined up with other holiday celebrations.  In short, it was convenient because people were used to partying at that time of year anyway.  Sort of like why your property tax bill shows up in December. People are used to having no money that time of year so it's just one more thing.

My husband might be on to something!

Then I got to wondering what Hubby's motivation in all of this is.

He's not a huge fan of TAKE IT DOWN season.  

He's also in charge of our outdoor lights and it's January 18 and they are still up. He's really going to push the envelop this year!

So, he SAYS we should move Christmas because it would keep the happy lights up longer and he knows I do love those happy twinkle lights.  But if we move Christmas to the 25th of January, then TAKE IT DOWN Season won't start until March 2, and by then most of us have a shot at at least one nice weather weekend when we can get out there and get the lights down.  Which means less yelling out my car window for me.

He might be brilliant, but he has confused me.

Well played, Hubby, well played.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cheap books and cheap wine coolers...a winning combination!

GOOD AFTERNOON!

I've decided to lower my e-book prices for a while so more of you can enjoy my books for less!  Not all the pricing has completely uploaded, but it should in the next 12-24 hours.

So, if you want to read one of my "Rock Harbor Chronicles"  books  (Formerly my "wicked Women" series), or either of the Elsie W. books, and you buy your e-books on Amazon, CLICK HERE to check out the new prices!

If you have a Nook and you get your e-books from Barnes and Noble, CLICK HERE for novels by Sarah J. Bradley and for the Elsie W. books, CLICK HERE to check out the new prices!

Now, if you read your books on any device other than a kindle or a nook, then you're still in luck!
CLICK HERE for Sarah J. Bradley novels .  For the Elsie W. books CLICK HERE to check out the new pricing!

I know that's a ton of info, but I'm really excited about lowering the prices on my books because it means one thing:  We are now just a short time away from seeing a new book!

Oh, and yes, Rick Springfield fans, all new pricing also applies to "Dream in Color," all of the sites.  YAY!

This is honestly the lowest price I'm going to be offering for the rest of the year, and it will be for a limited time.  How long that limited time is, I have no idea.  I'm not that organized!

Remember, if you read my books, or any books by an independent author, please leave a positive review.  (If you hated the book, however, feel free to NOT leave a review!  LOL!)  
Reviews and word of mouth are still the best, and sometimes the only, way an author can continue to do what they are doing.  It's not just so I can sit at my desk and spin yarns.  It's so this planet, our culture, can continue to hear stories from voices that have not been pigeonholed by big publishing.  

As they used to say in those great Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler adds:

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Well, now I'm back in 1989 and I want a wine cooler!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mardi gras, Duck Dynasty, Barry Manilow, and True Grit...it's quite the blog!

Good morning!

It's a huge leap of faith, but I have parted ways with my employer of the past few years. Friends, this is a good thing, really, so don't worry about me.  Now I have some time to...

Wait.  To do what?  

I've been working, almost non stop, since I was 13.  With short breaks in there for birthing Skippy (I took two days off after the birth of Peaches, that would be the upside to working form home) I haven't had a measureable break between jobs ever.  I have plans of course.  I'll look for a new job, no question, but I'm going to try and find something that truly makes me happy.

Which brings me to the thing that I plan on filling my free time with:  Finding what makes me happy.  

Okay, I know what makes me happy. I love to write stories.  And if the world would just realize how brilliant my stories are, I wouldn't have to job search every day and keep track of my job search in a job journal.  I could write stories and drink tea like other fabulous authors do.

Wait, back up.  What was that middle thing? Am I really that organized...a job journal? 

Oh dear.  I'm getting organized at home.  This is a problem.

See, at work I've always been super organized.  A place for everything and everything in a place and everyone knows it about five minutes after meeting me.  And my schedule is tight. Morning tasks, afternoon tasks, things that have to be done by a certain time.  

But at home it's a different story.

At home my desk sort of looks like the day after Mardi Gras.
Yep, that feels about right.
 There are three different pen holders, most of which don't hold usable pens.  I have about a dozen different candle holders on the desk, but I don't know where there's a clean sheet of computer paper.  (But I do have four unopened packs of loose leaf notebook paper, if anyone needs some.)I keep bills in a shoe box on a shelf right above my computer so that I don't lose them.  Seriously.  I keep bills in a shoe box. 


I don't, until now, spend wads of time at this desk, so it's not like I have to look at it every day. Until now.  Now I have time to look at my home desk and think, "That's just not going to work. Everything must have a place and I must cleanse the drawers now."  (Don't ask what's in my desk drawers here at home. Again, I keep my bills in shoe box!))

When the hunt for the perfect job becomes your job then your work space, your home office, has to be perfect.  So look out desk, there's going to be some cleaning that's going to happen.  And look out drawers, once I manage to pry you open, I'm going to figure out what to do with the last nine years' worth of check registers and then we are going to move things out of here!

You can take the anal retentive office drone out of the office...but you can't make her stop loving clean, open spaces on her desk.  

So look out, desk.  It's all going to be gone!  Gone, gone gone!  Like one of my favorite speeches from "True Grit."  (You have to wait until about 1:21 for the meaty part of the speech.)
Even Barry looks happy.

Old check registers, gone!  Notes from a school meeting I had when the kids were in GRADE SCHOOL....yes, some four or five years ago...GONE!  Empty tealight holders I meant to toss but they fell in a drawer...GONE, GONE. GONE!

I have some free time now to get all office-y on my home office.  

It's going to be awesome.  I'm even going to actually put the Barry Manilow LIVE Album my kids gave me for Christmas (vinyl rules in our house) into a frame and hang it!  Leaning album that falls between the desk and the wall every time I turn on the desk lamp...GONE!

So no, don't weep for me because I'm currently not gainfully employed.  I have so many things I'm free to do now.  I simply can't wait!  Cleaning and simplifying my home is going to make me happy.  Working on my new book series is going to make me happy. Possibly losing some weight because I actually have time and energy to get on the treadmill or go outside...okay, let's not get insane. It's January.  I probably won't go outside for another four months.  But still, I have time to move, to breath.  It's going to make me happy.  

Oh dear lord.  Would being a cleaning lady (again) make me happy?

Who knows?  But it's something to think about for sure.

So check out the Gone speech and instead think, "happy!"  Happy, happy, happy!  (Ok, Duck Dynasty fans, there's my one reference!)

And don't worry.  Things are still going to happen in my world.  I mean, they didn't suddenly close all the public restrooms did they?

Two adults discuss...achieving their Fitbit goals.

Many of you know that I've been getting up before work and taking a walk for my health and weight loss goals.  (Don't get ex...