Friday, August 22, 2014

The Zen of Out-Sourced Teching...A Drive-By Producing and Christopher Moore

Yes...this is ME after dealing with the "Bombast" Customer Service...based (I'm assuming) in New Delhi.

The call went something like this:

Hello...and to you a most glorious day. How can I be helping you? My name is (shuffling a prompt card)  Bob.

Me:  Hello Bob. My name is Carla and I am calling about an incorrect bill I received recently.

 (yes, I play along even though I know his name is Sahmir and he is based on another Continent, okay)

 First if you would be ever so kind as to tell me your nameaddresscityandstatezipcodetelephonenumberthelastfourdigitsofyoursocial

(so I do...correction after he slows the hell down and I understand what he has asked for- I do)

And if you would be ever so kind to tell me how I can be helping you on this glorious day?

Me:  The bill I received is for the bundle package...I only have Internet.

Sahmir a.k.a. BOB: Oh yes. The bundle package includes your incredibly fast by the Will of Allah (okay...maybe I made that part up) Internet service as well as your telephone and cable bill...they are all billed together.

Me: That is the problem, Bob.

Bob: Yes yes...(I can hear him smiling and nodding) I so completely understand Miss Carla...but unfortunately we cannot bill for the bundle separately. They will all be on the bill together.

Me: But I don't HAVE cable or telephone service, Bob.

Bob...although I am seriously thinking of adding another "o" at this point.  :

So then...there is trouble with your service...let me transfer you to our very helpful technical service department...

Noooooooooooooooooo,wait late...


and we start all over again...

Hello...thank you for calling "Bombast" Technical may I be assisting you today? My name is Lar-ree. 

( EVERYBODY there in some kind of bizarre witness protection program...)

Me:  Larry...I am calling about an incorrect bill I received from "Bombast".

Larry:  If I can ask you but a few questions before we get started. What is your nameaddresstelephonenumberlastfourdigitsofyoursocialsecuritynumberandyour

(so I do)

And to who it is that I am speaking?  I am so unfortunately sorry but you have made the call to the wrong department I will need to transfer you to "Bombast" Customer Service.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...wait...I just came 


This scenario is repeated 3 times. 

( the 3rd time I have fallen into an unintentional mimicry of the Eastern Indian now we are both talking completely unintelligibly...but extremely politely...)

At one point I actually get across that I do not even OWN a freaking television set before I am transferred. 

(That was verbatim by the way)

Then just when I have arrived at the breaking point...when I have decided 

"Hell...maybe I'll just pay the extra and to hell with it" 

I am saved by Sista Girl....

Transferred to this Amazing Intelligent Ebony Wonder-Woman who cuts through the bullshit in about 6 seconds flat!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Saved by a Sister from Queens.

And in my mind I am envisioning her grabbing Sahmir by his skinny little black tie and yelling

"Uh um little man...don't you even be giving me that glorious day crap...just fix this woman's bill...shee-it, she don't even GOT a TV...poor white girl..."

So all is well that ends well.

Thanked her profusely...then got off the phone and meditated for an hour just to return to Center.

"Bombast" Customer to remind you why they refer to it as being a "practicing Buddhist"...because just  when you think you've got it together...well you end up on the phone with "Bob". 

True story.

 My friend Rita's son plundered the rest of his garden this week and brought she and Sue and I-

                     beans, and corn, and cucumbers (oh my)

Which we have shucked and "tipped and tailed" and broken and put by filling the freezer and our pantries for Winter. Feels good to have a freezer full of garden veggies again...

A Drive-By Producing!

And this week's book by Christopher Moore:

A hilarious sequel to "Fool"

Needing a serious warning not to drink "Coffee while attempting to read this novel"!  Unless you just enjoy passing scalding beverages through your sinuses.
The return of Pocket...Drool...Jeff (the monkey)...the puppet Jones... and of course, the Ghost. Because there is always a bloody ghost. Parts are laugh out loud, funny.
It is ALL good.
If you LOVE Christopher Moore and have read "Fool" you MUST check this out!

If you haven't...start with Fool or you are going to be bloody lost.

Wishing everyone a "glorious weekend" 
from me and Bob in Customer Service :)


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Great Week...The Continuation of the Blush...and Other Observations

The end of an amazing week...punctuated by an afternoon of mall-ratting with friends, brunch and chat on the far NE side of Indianapolis. Complete with checking out the newest Yankee Candle scents (...LOVE "Sweater Weather" and "Vineyard"...) Picking up some more shimmery "Paris" body spray from Bath and Body"...a box of hand-dipped (complete with stems) chocolate dark chocolate covered cherries from The South Bend Chocolate Company... French Hook Earrings from Macy's...Lace and Ribbons Panties from Victoria's Secret and Ecco Domoni Pinot, Bruchetta, Salads and Slices of  Cheesecake Factory Vanilla Bean Cheesecake at TGIF's...and a wonderful time had by all. Proving once, and for all you should never let three women over 50 plunder a mall unsupervised!

"Because we're worth it, darling!" 

Plodding along with my most recent acrylic (still under construction) and discovering the wonders of texturing gel. Going to work on building up barnacles on the beginnings of the shore rocks...and using a dry brush technique to really make them pop when I add the details.  Hoping to work more on the water today and yes...their will be a large wave breaking against the rock jutting from the surface...added as a last detail...nowhere near finished...but it is coming along.

            Details of the beginning texture gel...I LOVE this stuff! Who knew?

   Also siphoned off my "Blush" wine this morning to clarify. It smells incredible.

And reserved a small bit to sample.

Did not do a blend with this one. Just Concord Grapes, Sugar and Yeast. It will lighten a bit as it finishes clarification...a little drier than my white, surprisingly. A heavier "nose" and a bit more bite. Rounder and expect the flavour to develop even more as it cures. I tasted this with Savory crackers and Gouda and it paired very well. Will be good with pastas.


Gypsy Winery: Message in a Bottle Wines

"A Little Bit Shy"

Début Blush 
Vintage 2014

The message in this bottle:  "More PASTA, por favore!"

Going to set a Honey Mead to ferment on Friday :)

 Getting a bit spoiled with the micro-batch time frame...and will have to adjust accordingly if I attempt a larger batch to bottle. From ferment to clarification is roughly a week on these 4 cup batches. Clarification to curing another week and the entire curing process is less that a month.

And setting aside tasting (sealed) jars for September, Idgy! Can't wait to see what you think...only

more days!   A week here...a week there and a short road-trip together :) A late Summer/Early Fall Adventure  :)

More news emerging about Robin Williams untimely it appears he had been diagnosed and recently exhibiting the early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. Suddenly, and sadly, his suicide makes a lot more sense now. 

And Ferguson, Missouri is still in chaos...

People,( and white...) I get the absolute outrage over the police shooting. I REALLY do. Officers have the right to apprehend and arrest an unarmed shoplifter. They, however, do not have the right to be judge, jury and executioner.

This teen was killed over a $48.00 box of cigars.

Having said is really HARD for me to understand how destroying businesses, burning stores and cars, and looting liquor and hair weave/beauty shops has ANYTHING to do with your cause. It would seem to be undermining what possible hope you have of getting your message across.


And as long as I am shaking my head...which seems to happen daily while reading the news now...

Ebola...from 26 cases/deaths located within one small West African Country: Guinea to this morning's numbers of

1,145 Dead

2, 127 Confirmed

in 7 Different Countries now.  In 5 months.
Excuse me for saying but

"Way to Drop the Ball, Guys" 

So now Guinea is making an effort to close their borders...instead of when it was only 26 cases and they were all in Guinea...


The priest shipped back to Spain has died. The Philippines is reporting a possible outbreak. We have two Americans sequestered in a hospital in Atlanta...and a few hundred Peace Corps Workers and Good Samaritan Missionary/Heathcare which immediately hopped a plane the "...the hell out of Dodge..." when the Doctor and Nurse ended up with they are back in The States. Can't see how that could possibly go wrong.

And you have to blame cinema for part of the apathy we have seen. Movies like Outbreak and Contagion which help cause people to think that pandemics are something that start overnight. Wake up in 4 days and people are dropping dead like flies outside your doors.

It makes for exciting theater...but it is far from the way real life unfolds. Real life takes times. Has sputters and starts. The longer the virus is spread in human hosts the closer we come to that airborne mutation.

And the mixed messages sent by WHO and the CDC and various media.

"Not to worry."

"Okay, we are a bit worried."

"There is  no need to screen flights."

" just spread to two other countries off a flight..."

"There is no need to close borders"

"Christ...Close the BORDER already..."

"We're shutting down flights"

and my personal bugaboo...and both the media, CDC and WHO have used it endlessly...

The TERM "Bodily Fluids"

Which, post HIV/AIDS- we have been conditioned to think of as "Blood and Blood Products" and "Semen"

But...which, in this case, actually means ALL bodily fluids.

Blood, semen, mucous, saliva, tears, feces, urine, sweat. 

And, unlike HIV this virus can live on contaminated surfaces...even linens and clothing  (much like Hepatitis B) for up to 3 days. And is fully transmissible at that time.

See the problem?

Misinformation and lack of differentiation is costing lives.

This week's book...the first in a long long long series (...I think there are 18 in all..) recommended by a friend  Left Behind by Tim LaHaye. A piece of fiction about an airline pilot (and quite a few other people) who realize post-Rapture that amidst the piles of clothing/shoes and ipods they haven't quite "made the cut". Especially interesting on our main character's part (the pilot) who discovers the disappearances at 50,000 feet while flying a commercial airline. And you thought people got pissed when you lose their luggage!

Fast paced. Borderline preachy...but once you get past that a hell of a story. Interesting to watch the sociological breakdown after people realize they have been "left behind".  Not at all likely that I will muddle through all 18 of these...but this first book was pretty entertaining.

Not to worry...neither the friend that turned me on to the book...or I have any worries of disappearing in a pile of clothes and shoes...ever.

 Pretty sure about that. Sometimes these things just go without saying...

Have a Great Weekend!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O Captain...My Captain...

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
    But O heart! heart! heart!
      O the bleeding drops of red,
        Where on the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
    Here Captain! dear father!
      This arm beneath your head;
        It is some dream that on the deck,
          You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
      But I, with mournful tread,
        Walk the deck my Captain lies,
          Fallen cold and dead.

                                                          ~Walt Whitman

Yesterday...Robin Williams lost his battle with The AbyssAnd the light of the World became a bit less bright.

His comedy spanned the Generations...Some remembering Mork and Mindy fondly...others Peter Pan or Batty Koda...Aladdin or Mrs. Doubtfire...Patch Adams and Good Will Hunting...Dead Poet's Society and Fisher King...or the chilling and sad role in 24 Hour Photo...To me he will always be "Mr. Keating", showing us how to find our own voice in this world.

 Carpe Diem 

Young or old...we seemed to grow up with him. Although, like Hook's nemesis he seemed ageless...alive...never growing up. And that was his charm.  Although he was not our neighbour and we had never met him...he was everyman...and seemed a part of the family.  He made us laugh. Sometimes in our darkest hour.

Last night we sat shocked Stunned. It MUST be a mistake. Perhaps one of those terrible misinformation hoaxes like they had going around with Morgan Freeman for a while.

Sadly, confirmation was a mouse-click away. Then we were left only to wonder collectively if someone like Robin Williams could fall into the Abyss...what possible chance did we have? 

Winston Churchill referred to it as The Black Dog.

Joyce Carol Oates called it the Basilisk

Freddie Prinze, Heath Ledger, Marilyn Monroe, 
Kurt Cobain, and so many many more (both in and out of the public eye) have found themselves staring into it...moments before ending their own lives.  


And it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. Black, White, Yellow or Red or some shade in-between. Woman or man. Democrat or Republican. It strikes terribly and indiscriminately. It is the true equal opportunity killer.

In his 2009 film, The World's Greatest Dad, he gave the following sage advice

"If you are that depressed, reach out to someone. And remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Sound advice...but seemingly impossible when the world seems to have shrunk to the size of the dark bubble you are trapped in...when it seems that no matter what it is never going to get better or you are never going to stop hurting.

It is hard to know why he made the decision. Maybe after 63 years of the battle he was just tired. Tired of the isolation...of the sadness...the pain.

Over and over today I have read remarks about how selfish his decision was. As anyone who has ever stood looking over that edge can tell you...selfish doesn't enter into it. Other people don't enter into it. There is just You...and the Darkness...beckoning quietly for you to

And sometimes you do.

When suddenly leaping seems less 
frightening than perpetually
standing and peering
 over the edge.

Feeling so sad for his widow and the children left behind...and selfishly sad for myself...inconceivable that someone who touched so many lives and made so many laugh. Some in their darkest hours...left this world feeling so utterly

We must be there for one another. We must reach out. And if you are staring into the to friend...a the Suicide Hotline if need be

"Genie...I set you free"

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Good Books....Car Shows and Blush Wine...

The perfect end to the week :)

An impromptu trek to our local car show for the day with my youngest and his girlfriend/fiance/beloved/leprechaun.

Up early...fixed a big country style breakfast for all of us and then it was off to The Show. The impending rain holding off until the judging was done and the show was over.

It was a little like this

and this

and a lot of these

But, the ones that really capture my heart are the works in progress like these:

The latter looking a great deal as though it might have been recently fished out of the Wabash...but when I look at these unfinished "rust-buckets", I envision the hours that will be spent restoring them. Loving them. The smell of sanding dust and bondo. The layers and layers of lacquer.

 The Potential.

Did I mention I've always been The Patron Saint of Rustbuckets?

Anyway, had a wonderful time kids! Thanks...and yes...I will be looking for those off-road walker tires...soon.

My white wine now curing...and started a vat of (what will eventually be) blush. Was fortunate enough to get a pound of those dark black Concords to start this batch!

                                                             (Day 1)

                                                           (Day 3)

Learning that small batch wine-making is not only a study in tastes..but also an auditory and olfactory adventure as well. The fermenting process not only being pungent..but quite noisy at times. The crackle and fizz of budding yeast beasts

And, recently learned that a great many of the best "blush" wines out there (including several French varieties and most of the Californias) are basically  just a "mixture" of a decent white and a little of a good red.

I stand a bit disillusioned.  Maybe a LOT disillusioned.


I mean, it is like the comedian who did the whole routine about brown paper bag wines...

"Add ketchup and blow, and it becomes a fine Rose'"

My- mystical illusions -crushed. 

Still avoiding the campden tablets and using the basic


approach. If my white is any has worked.  When I bottle a larger batch I will use the Campden to retard spoilage.
I was admittedly worried about the egg white clarification business...but it worked very well.

And, Yes.
I did back off the yeast in this! No more wine-shine...

The Novel this week: John Sandford's latest Field of Prey.

 Written in his fast paced, action packed, got to apprehend the killer, style. Well developed characters. A serial killer who has spent years and years perfecting his crime (and being unnoticed) until the day 21 bodies are discovered in an abandoned concrete-capped cistern. One abducted and killed each year since he started.

Not War & Peace. But an entertaining action/thriller. If you've read any of Sandford's other PREY novels you will like this latest. If you've never read him before be prepared for a wild ride.

And a quick recipe for Chicken Caprese which I am baking tonight!

                             (stock photo...hoping mine turns out this nice!)

Split pre-grilled chicken breast...layer on bruchette or slice of baguette with 1 Portabella mushroom each...slices of Roma tomato...Buffalo Mozzarella...and fresh basil. Broil until cheese bubbles and is starting to brown.

Pairs good with Pinot, or a good white/blush Zinfindal...and fresh fruit of any kind.  And maybe a serving of that Tiramisu Gelato...

Just Sayin'

Have a Wonderful Relaxing Weekend  :)

And my finished Rosemary Herbed Loaf!
Thanks for the recipe, Mark!

And a Happy Ending to the "Lovey-Cat" saga...

                                           (...can't talk...eating....)

With the arrival of Tess' sister, after learning she had been left behind, scooped her up and has given her a forever (indoor) home :)

Tucker seems relieved.

Spoiled cat!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Wrath of Grapes...Happiness is...and some other stuff...

                                                     The Whole Gang!

            And one of Aiden (that James captioned) that I thought was perfect

Needless to say the kids were ecstatic to be all together...and hope it is a glimpse of a new normal emerging.  It is hard on them when they can't be together.

        (...we're not just brothers and sisters...we're more like a small gang...)     

                                         Brenden- leading the Adventure!

And, of course, James and Nicole were thrilled!

And Emma's newest pets

"Spot" and "Lily" and the "frog-atat" that James built for them.

So...the end of a pretty spectacular week.

And (although it still has about a month to cure) the white wine has clarified!
It worked :) And I siphoned off enough for an early tasting...just to see where it is at...

The Clarification.

And a bit to "taste"

A light fruity "nose", nice colour- and the alcohol content cut drastically last week with the addition of filtered water and light pear juice. Crisp...with, what promises to be a nice pear finish.


Gypsy Winery- Message in a Bottle Wines

"OMG...It Worked!"

Début White 

The Message in This Bottle will be "Pairs nicely with Fresh Fruit, Gouda, or Dessert"-  I think.

When it finished curing I am going to siphon off and do a mini-bottle to share with "Idgy" over then we may even have a Blush or a Honey Mead, as well. Enjoy a mini-wine tasting, together.

Starting the Blush on Monday.

Two books this week. Both Non-Fiction.  Both exulting the joys of Fromage!

The Joy of Cheesemaking by Jody Farnham and Marc Druart


The Whole Fromage by Kathe Lison

The former, a nuts and bolts approach to cheese-making with numerous recipes and suggested pairings and uses.

The latter, more of a winsome Journal of cheese-making and tasting throughout the French Countryside and some suggested not-to-be-missed cheeses of France.

Loved the recipes and ideas for meals made from the different cheeses in the first...but the second was closer to my heart...and I have made a list of samples I have to buy and a few instances buy, import and try. An entertaining, informative, and compelling read.

Still waiting on the new Water's novel...but did manage to find one of her's that I had not seen before- Affinity.  About half-way in now...and it promises to be just as good as "Fingersmith"

 Working on a new canvas over the weekend...a beach scene again with another earth-shattering kaboom of a wave against a large rock off shore based on this photograph...but probably a different sky and no barnacles on the rocks.

And hoping to try Mark's recipe for a round of Rosemary herbed bread over the weekend...since my herb basket has an over-abundance of it.

And as long as we are talking about herb(s)

A smile and nod to my buddy in Colorado, Ralph...who reminds us it is Fair Time in The State that just legalized Recreational Marijuana...

That is RIGHT...Elephant Ears, Deep Fried Twinkies, A Funnel Cake and a Joint.

 "Is this a GREAT Country or what???"


                                                  Have a wonderful weekend!