• Today I got a got phone message from Barack Obama, asking me to vote for Gabe Amo on Election Day. I was already planning to vote for him, but thanks for the reminder anyway, Obama. It’s always good to hear your voice, even if it’s just a recording. I’m not even being sarcastic. Your voice sounds so reasonable. So sane. As if adults are in the room. As if everything will be taken care of. As if the world isn’t falling apart. I wish you’d leave me a message every day, honestly.
  • In my e-mail, I got an e-mail about a class-action suit against Shutterfly, inviting me to join the pile-on. Over the years I’ve been asked to join quite a few class-action suits. I never do, even when I’m thinking to myself, “Yeah, those guys suck!” But I have no beef with Shutterfly. They’re not perfect, but they’ve made some beautiful photo albums and Christmas cards for me, and I can’t imagine suing them.
  • In the snail mail, I got some more medical bills. That really cranks my chain. IMHO, either I should pay for all my health costs and my health insurance (in this scenario, very cheap) should only kick when things get really bad. Or, I should pay for none of my health costs, and my health insurance (in this scenario, very expensive) should cover everything. But, as it is now, I pay most of my health costs and my health insurance is very expensive. What a shit system!
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It’s a rainy morning here in Rhode Island, courtesy of Lee, the storm that was once a hurricane and is now a post-tropical cyclone. We weren’t expecting to be hit hard by the storm, but my interpretation of Murphy’s Law is that a failure to prepare for a bad situation is likely to bring on that situation. It’s a form of superstition, not far off from “knock on wood,” but I’d rather be overprepared than underprepared. So, before I went to bed last night, I filled up several bottles and pots with water, just to be safe.

Speaking of water, that’s something we’ve had in abundance lately. This week we had four consecutive days of thunderstorms, one of which brought tornadoes to the area, and all of which brought heavy rain. To my surprise, my phone has started giving me audio alerts, so every time there’s an emergency situation, a woman’s voice suddenly starts coming from the direction of my purse, booming out the details of the alert. It makes the tornado warnings seem even more surreal. The rain killed our nascent crop of grass in the front yard and washed away the top layer of soil, which was heartbreaking given how much we’d paid to get the lawn redone. The back yard became a rapidly expanding lake. I joked that it was God’s way of giving us the swimming pool that we’ve been wishing for, but thank God the rain stopped before the edges of the lake reached the house.

But there was a small bright side to getting all that rain. Our house is on a slab, and a lot of moisture comes into the house through the floors. We often have to run a dehumidifier, which isn’t great, and now that we’re refinishing the downstairs, we’ve decided to try to seal up the concrete floors to block out that moisture. But, whether or not you can effectively seal a concrete floor depends on how much water is actually coming up, and what better time to test that than when the ground is thoroughly saturated. That way you’re getting the “worse case scenario” number. My husband did the test. The results came back higher than expected, but not too high to proceed.

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Lucky, Licensed, and Laughing

Luckily for me, I was able to join AAA for free and renew my license, complete with Real ID upgrade. But, I’m troubled by how the licensing system appears to be working. While I was at the AAA office, quite a few other people came in for DMV-related business. It seems to me that if the if AAA weren’t picking up so much of its slack, the DMV would never be able to get away with offering so few appointments. But AAA is not a free service (I was only able to join for free because my husband has a paid membership). For something as important as a driver’s license–which is needed not just for driving, but also for voting–there should never be anything standing in your way. You shouldn’t have to drive to distant locations, or pay for a AAA membership, or worse yet, be completely unable to renew your license before it expires. I can’t be the only person to have run into problems finding an appointment, and I wonder how others are faring.

P.S. I found out that the birth certificate that I have always thought of as official because it’s original is in fact totally useless for identification purposes. It was issued by the hospital, not the state, and its fancy seal, which looks at first glance like a notary seal, only has the name of the hospital on it. Huh. What’s the point of the certificate then? Why did my parents give it to me, and why have I bothered to keep it all these years? Anyway, it’s a good thing I have a notarized copy of my “real” birth certificate and that I brought it with me to my license renewal appointment.

P.P.S. I didn’t have to get Real ID at this time, but I decided to do it just because I was going to have to eventually anyway. Yes, I was annoyed at having to jump through the same stupid hoops that I’d had to jump through to get my original driver’s license. But I didn’t say so while I was at my appointment. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t, and when, inevitably, I felt the urge to say it, I turned it into my own private joke and had a quiet little laugh instead, thereby sparing the AAA employee from having to listen to me gripe.

I grow more saintly with every passing year. 😉

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After WEEKS of trying to get a Real ID appointment at the DMV, and being offered only appointments at impossible times and improbable locations, today I was FINALLY offered a whole week’s worth of appointments at various times, including some appointments at the closest DMV. It was like finding the Holy Grail.

Or so I thought. When I looked a little closer, I realized that all of the appointments were for the week AFTER my birthday. WTF! Seriously, does the State not want me to get a Real ID, ever?

My next thought was, “You want to play that way, DMV? Fine. I’ll just get a regular renewal.” The DMV’s response was, “Ha-ha, no. This time you need a new picture, so you still have to come in, and you still can’t have an appointment before your birthday. Gotcha!”

So now it looks like my only option for renewing before expiration is through AAA. Am I a member? Good question. If my husband followed through with adding me when there was that “Add a Household Member For Free!” promotion, then I’m a member. If he didn’t, then UGH, I am going to be twice as irritated, because I am going to have to pay extra money to renew my license. The bright side: it looks like AAA does Real ID, so maybe I can get the upgrade while I’m at it.

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Reading Report: Late July 2023

I recently finished reading A Crossword to Die For by Nero Blanc and gave it a B grade. In this mystery, a crossword editor suspects that her father, who died from a heart attack on his way to visit her, was in fact murdered, so she and her PI husband investigate his death. The story leaned a little too heavily on certain red herrings, but it kept my interest for the duration, which is one of the most important things when it comes to murder mysteries. The book contained six crosswords, some of which provided hints regarding the mystery, but I was disinclined to stop reading long enough to solve the puzzles and also unwilling to write in the book. So, I skipped all but one of them, which kinda defeated the purpose of the crossword gimmick. Whatever. I like reading, and I like crosswords, but I don’t like them together.

Currently reading: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander (Book 4 in the Chronicles of Prydain), Aimless Love by Billy Collins, and Le petit fantôme by Emma Tennant (traduit de l’anglais par Lan du Chastel)

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  • It was a long drive, through thunderstorms and flooded roads, to my new music teacher’s house. I went to two wrong houses before I found the right one (so embarrassing). But I did finally get there. And now I have homework…
  • Today was Livia’s second day of theater camp. She’s been upgraded from “ensemble member” to a speaking role. Hooray for Livia!
  • Last night my father called to tell me that my Aunt Laura had died. Laura was my aunt by marriage, and I didn’t know her well. She was a part of my childhood world, though, and forever a part of my memory. I’m sorry that she’s gone.
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A Loss

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Hi, Kiwi!

We have two hummingbird feeders in front of our dining-room window, and they get a lot of traffic. There is one particular hummingbird–short and squat, with an incredibly bright orange throat–who not only visits the feeders, but also perches on a nearby tomato cage to preen himself. Livia dubbed him Kiwi, and the name stuck. He’s become such a familiar presence that it’s not unusual to hear someone say “Hi, Kiwi!” as they pass by the window.

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To Be Chopin

As I’ve said before, these days I don’t want to play Chopin as much as I want to be Chopin. But music composition is complicated, and I can’t figure it all out on my own. I tried the book route, but without anyone or anything to keep me trained on the task, I soon got distracted from it. Berklee, alas, is still too expensive. There’s only one other thing left to try: a music composition teacher. So I looked for one, and found one, and my first lesson will be on Tuesday. Wish me luck.

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Into the Woods

I went for a walk in the woods today, inappropriately appareled, and will no doubt bitterly regret it tonight when I can’t sleep because of the dozen mosquito bites on my arms. My goal initially had been only to check my property for blueberries. But aside from the blueberry bush next to the house, which is just ripening now, I found no berries. Disappointed, I headed deeper into the woods, knowing that I wasn’t dressed for it, but determined to find blueberries anyway.

I eventually found a lot of what were probably huckleberries, most of them not quite ripe, as well as a few low-bush blueberries, most of them small, even for wild blueberries. Oh, well. Maybe I’ll have better blueberry luck next year.

And stupidly, because I had expected to stay on my own property, I didn’t take my camera with me into the woods. So naturally there were things I wanted to take pictures of. The rattlesnake plantain was starting to bloom, and I found a whole new wildflower. I’m going to have to go back into the woods soon if I want to capture them with my camera. But if I do, I’m going to wear a long-sleeved shirt, that’s for sure!

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