Friday, December 28, 2012

Snippets from the holiday

The speed version:

Cara got home Friday night before Christmas. The roads were awful. Her three hour trip took 5 hours. There was a very serious accident, which involved rerouting traffic.

The world did not end either.

We had a big celebration with the nieces and nephews on Christmas eve's eve, and we gave them tin boxes which contained family pictures, a disk containing the 196 page PowerPoint of our family history (my sister Anna is the master of PowerPoint production), a Christmas bauble from their grandparents' tree, and a rooting from the hundred year old Christmas cactus which originally belonged to their great-great-grandmother, then their great grandmother, then their grandmother, and now, finally me.

Please God, don't let me be the one that kills it.
My brother in law is probably just about fed up with our secret project. Did I mention 196 pages? Tim and Dave have been very good sports. I'm not sure how I did not happen to get a picture of my sister during all of this. She was flitting around quite a bit, though. If you see any pictures that are just a blur, it's probably her.

James and his lovely wife Rosalyn.
Bill and Ange. Bill is home from his third (fourth?) tour of Afghanistan. He was like this before he left though.
This is Bill's brother, Jim and his wife Sarah. Bill and Jim are my sister Anna's two children. These two are expecting their third child after the first of the year. Child number one is...
...Abigail. She is Jim and Sarah's oldest. I call her Abbie-my-gail, and I have taught her to sing The Circle of Life at the top of her lungs. I am the gift that keeps on giving.

This is Danny, kidlet number two. His pants do not stay up, owing to the fact that the poor child was born with no butt.

This is Haley, the youngest of my parents grandchildren, my youngest niece. She is in 9th grade and an avid horsewoman.

This is Rachel, who is a new big sister to...
Chance Walker who belongs to...
...Kellie. Her husband Dave had to work and could not be with us, but our computer whiz/graphics woman is assembling everyone's e-mails, telephone numbers and addresses to make a directory for all the cousins to stay in touch. That partial form next to her? That's my sister Anna.
This is Cara. She's mine. She looked at this picture and pronounced it 'charming...just...charming', in a tone of voice that indicated that she might not be telling the truth.
This is the darling William, playing with his little cousins. His parents, Brianna and Buddy were also not able to join us. Brianna had to work.

This is Bill opening his box. They all seemed to enjoy what Anna had put together for them all.

Our Christmas tree fell over, but no ornaments broke. We moved a sofa from the library to the livingroom for the big do on Sunday, and then moved it back into the library for Christmas morning. We bumped the tree a little, but the whole falling over thing was over-the-top. Drama tree.  We tidied it up a little, but still, it looks a bit bedraggled.

I squabbled with customer service. Again. Tis the season.

Cara and I had Thai food on Christmas eve, and we all wrapped the final presents and watched "Meet Me in St. Louis". Cara was certain that it could not be Christmas without that. I always thought that "It's a Wonderful Life" was the mandatory movie. It was a nice break for Tim, who doesn't understand why people want to watch a movie more than once anyway. Furthermore, he was quite entranced with the house and furnishings, not to mention the gas lights in this 'new' (to us) movie.

Christmas morning was wonderful. Little William could open his own presents this year, but every unwrapped gift became the best thing ever, and the rest of the presents just had towait. Christmas lasted a good long time. Everyone seemed to like their gifts, which made all the shopping and agonizing worthwhile. This is a picture of Mr. Adorable giving his parents the present he made for them.

Major snowstorm the day after Christmas, which caused my 1 hour 20 minute trip work commute to become well over 2 hours. I got home safely, stumbled from the car, and told Tim, apologetically, "I don't want to drive to Emlenton for your extended family Christmas." Turned out he didn't want to either, which made us very sad, because we enjoy that party.

William has been hospitalized after imitating that blender. He managed to urp down his Auntie's shirt which nearly triggered a sympathy urp from her. He is dehydrated, and receiving IV fluids which makes him very fretful. He is still there, since the doctor does not see any sign that he is improving. His parents are quite worried.
I am doing my worrying from afar. The alarm woke me up this morning. I was half way to the bathroom when it hit me: "Whoa. You're sick." I reluctantly cashed in one of my hoarded vacation days and stayed home from work. Seems like a waste of a good vacation day. Late edit: after two days in the hospital, William is now home.

If anyone knows how to remove the smell of vomit from a cloth sofa, we'd love to hear from you. We have removed the covers, and Febreezed the thing to within an inch of its life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I placed an order for my friend. She does not have the internet, and so she called me, and I placed the order for her via the internet, using our paypal account. Now, I am not sure what's up with paypal. I've made purchases, and everything has been fine. Other times it rejects. The problem is always that we no longer live in the woods. The address was changed long ago, but sometimes, for whatever reason, the order rejects. Naturally, the order I placed rejected. I received an immediate e-mail providing me with a order number and telling me to call.

I called.

They had no record of the order or the order number or my name or nuthin'. They told me that the order had rejected from their system and told me to go ahead and place a new order over the phone. Which I did.

About an hour later, I received an e-mail from them. The original order number was in the subject line. The body went like this:

Thank you for your order. Unfortunately, your order is currently on hold! We understand that this purchase is very important to you and we want to process your order right away.

Please call us 9am to 10pm ET, Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm ET Saturday & Sunday at 877-965-3955 and press 6 to speak with a billing specialist. Please, do NOT reply to this email and do NOT send payment information via email. If you do not contact us within 10 days, your order will be cancelled. Thank you for shopping at FansEdge.

Yours truly,

The FansEdge Billing Department

So I responded:

Please cancel this order, I called as directed, your people could not find the order, so I placed another one. PLEASE CANCEL THIS ORDER. Thank you.

They responded:

Thank you for contacting FansEdge. Our goal is to provide quality service  to each and every one of our valued customers. In response to your email, you must call us so we could find your order
and cancel it.

 If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to visit the Customer Care Center by clicking the link at the top of our homepage.

Thank you again for contacting FansEdge!


I responded:

I already DID call, and was told that it could not be found. I would suggest that you cancel it as per my request, and save us both the trouble of holding on the phone while people look through the files once again.

Thank you.
They responded:

Thank you for contacting FansEdge. Our goal is to provide quality service to each and every one of our valued customers.

In regards to your inquiry, we are unable to locate your order in our system. If you can please forward your order number we will be happy to assist you. If you do not have your order number, please provide us with the last name and zip code the order was being shipped to.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to visit the Customer Care Center by clicking the link at the top of our homepage.

Thank you again for contacting FansEdge!


I responded:'s in the subject line from the original e-mail you keep responding to...9xxxxx5, being shipped to R-----, zip 16340.

Gotta say, really don't think that I'll be ordering from here again. This is really pretty aggravating.

They responded:

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for contacting FansEdge. Our goal is to provide quality service to each and every one of our valued customers.

In regards to your inquiry, we are unable to locate your order in our system. If you can please forward your order number we will be happy to assist you. If you do not have your order number, please provide us with the last name and zip code the order was being shipped to.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to visit the Customer Care Center by clicking the link at the top of our homepage.

Thank you again for contacting FansEdge!

Customer Service

You may not have noticed, but really, I have limited patience with stupid stuff. I responded, a bit more tartly:

You know, I hate to get scroogey here, but for the love of pete, the order number is in the fricken subject line, and the last name and zipcode (as well as the order number) was provided in the e-mail you all responded to.

Does fansedge hire any literate people?

Once again, I give it to you. Order number 9xxxxx5, being shipped to R-----, zip 16340. If you cannot read my e-mail, how can I expect you to find the stupid order?

This is really quite ridiculous.

They responded:

Thank you for ordering from FansEdge, we appreciate your business! We are emailing you this notification. Your order is currently on hold because your credit card information could not be verified. Please call 877-965-3955, press menu option 6, and ask to speak with one of our billing specialists during our regular business hours of Mon-Fri 9AM - 6PM EST, so that we may complete your order. Never send credit card information via email, as it is not a secure environment. If we do not
hear back from you within 2 business days, your order will be cancelled.

We do apologize for any inconvenience.



I responded:

I give up. Merry Christmas, and I hope that someone goes back and reads this string of e-mails, because really, it's ridiculous. If a supervisor wants to call me, fine. Otherwise, just know that I'll never place an order with you all again.

The supervisor responded:

Our goal is to provide quality service to each and every one of our valued customers.

In response to your email, the reason why we are unable to process your request because your order is on hold. To further assist you better we will need for you to contact us in regard to this matter.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to visit the Customer Care Center by clicking the Help link at the top of our homepage.


I'm a little flabberghasted, but this time, I simply chose not to respond.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Bad Grandma

William came and spent the night Saturday. We made a Christmas present for his mommy and daddy. Who knew that getting his hands messy was going to be so traumatic?

The events at Sandy Hook cast a pall over everything, I think. I looked at those little faces and I cried. I looked at my little grandson's face, and I thought, "What if..." and I got teary eyed again, considering the unthinkable.

It's time for this country to sit down and talk. Unfortunately, we are not very good at talking. I forsee hard times ahead.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


So, today I was at work. I needed to talk to my boss. We are like two ships that pass in the night, really, because I'm everywhere, but today, we were in the same building, and I was not going to let that opportunity pass. I had a favor to ask.

There's a COTA who works for the state, but provides services for some of our clients. I've heard of the therapy, read about it, but I want to see it. Work with her. Understand it. I'm willing to do that on my own time. Actually, I'd knock people down to have the opportunity. But it's a dicey proposition. I'd be in one of our buildings, not on the clock. It could ruffle feathers, so I figured to ask permission. I was prepared to beg if the truth be told.

So I put it forward, laid it all out for her. She stared at me, and I knew it. Her answer was going to be no. I said, "This COTA has a wealth of experience, and she is willing to work with me. I think it would be in the very best interests of the company. It would amount to free training..."

She said, "You know, you're a rare bird."

I froze a little inside, stopped talking, and looked closely at her face.

I was remembering other words. The clinic manager at the nursing home told me, "I've never had a student like you before. You're so terrible, I don't even know what to do with you." Those words made me cry, in front of people. She wouldn't let me speak. I felt like a failure when I left that facility, and I knew that not being like everyone else was a bad thing.

This time, though, there was a smile. She said, "I hate to see you not get paid." Seeing that I was about to get what I wanted, I quickly said, "I don't care about that. I want the experience. I want to be good at what I do."

She gave me permission. I AM different. But sometimes being different is a good thing.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This was a goooooood day....

You know, I get exasperated with myself sometimes. Today, I drove home from work thinking, "I'll bet I did not keep those stencils." I needed them. I am teaching a woman to write her name, and I thought that if I began with manipulatives, she'd learn the letters of her name first and then we could focus on drawing those letters later.

Guess what? I did keep those letters. I knew exactly where they were, too. Yay me.

I tend to set stuff down and lose stuff too, but I found stuff today.

I found my favorite clip board. We change cars on a fairly regular basis, and I thought it was in a car that is in storage. Nope. I had it.

 I also found my box of colored pencils, a stack of laminating sheets, a tablet of stickers that I can use for rewards and fine motor activities. I also found the Christmas pictures I took of William, and two hole punches.

I expect to find a partridge in a pear tree shortly.

I packed my finds into a large bag that two friends had brought me a long time back, when I was still confronting cancer, before one of those friends got it, before she died of it. I remembered.

As I put my things in the bag, I mentally listed the things that I could use these items for. They are ordinary, but each one of them could address skills that my clients need to work on. I kept marveling at my finds. "Wow. It's kind of like I already have everthing I'm ever going to need to do this job."

It wasn't until after I was laying in bed that I realized that this could be a metaphor. I do have everything I need to do this job, despite my worst fears. I've had it all along.

The Weekend

I'm living in the middle of wonderful, beautiful heartwarming stories. I'm so lucky. All I ever wanted was for my life to make a difference. To know that it is...overwhelming.

Having a professional job is a great thing, but what I'm loving even more than the pay raise is that I once again have weekends off. This weekend, Tim and I worked on an apartment. We went Christmas shopping, roaming and discussing, in no particular rush. We found some really great gifts that we're excited about. We came home and wrapped aforementioned gifts. Well. I wrapped. He got up on commercials and carried the stacks into the library to put under the tree.

Yesterday, my friend Mary did a Holly Home Tour, and Bush Babe? You will be pleased to know that you nearly got me in great trouble. One of the homes had the sweetest child's bedroom, with a painted dresser and a bed which was built into a cedar shingled doll house. It was grand. I had my camera tucked away in the pocket of my red wool coat and when I whipped it out, I discovered no photography was permitted inside the homes.


It was a fun day, walking to the homes, being welcomed in, meeting people I'd not seen for such a long time (hello, Vickie, I'm in the phone book, call me maybe.) It was wonderful to see Mary again. Cancer seems like such a long time ago, for both of us.

Just having two whole days that belong to Tim and I, that we can spend however we please...that seems luxurious, right there.

Truth does not change. Truth is always going to be correct, no matter how you look at it. I have discovered a great truth which I wish to share. When you have an itch, cortisone cream helps a lot. If you have an itch and you grab the familiar red tube out of the bureau drawer in the bathroom, and use it without reading, because, once again, your glasses are not handily placed upon your head, and discover in short order that you have two familiar red tubes in the bureau drawer in the bathroom, one of cortisone cream, and one of muscle rub, well...let me just say, the two are not interchangeable.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

End of the world.

I've been getting hammered with spam lately. Today I got one from China, dated Wednesday, January 5th, 2022.

Evidently the world is not going to end in 2012 after all.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have cat friends and dog friends...

The words of the day:

Something has been bothering me a lot, and I am going to say it outright. The elections have made it clear to me that we have a great many contentious people in this country. It seems as if we miss no opportunity to debate and argue. What about this? That we simply take a vow this holiday season that we will not argue with others. If they say 'Happy Holidays,' or 'Happy Hanukkah', or 'Happy Kwanzaa', we will not pick apart their words, but look at the sincerity of their greeting. If we wish to say 'Merry Christmas' in return, then say it, but let our greeting be sincere and kind.

Let us, for the season, become men and women of good will.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tis the season!

New answering machine message: Hi! You have reached the Hornburgs. If you are the lady looking for a haircut, you've got the wrong number. If you're NOT the woman looking for a haircut, please leave a message after the beep.

My cracker snaps came. I'm going to make crackers. I always wanted to! This year I have the time for it. Whoot!   I got the icicle lights untangled. I'm starting to think those folks who leave their Christmas lights up all year round are on to something...   Tim will be home in an hour. We have an appointment to go look at a property and we have to go get his venison, but we're going to go do some Christmas shopping too.