* Vietnam Veterans will be making another pickup at my house on March 4. I love VVA -- not only because of the work they do, but because they have the best organized charity collection system I've ever witnessed. I can count on a call every six weeks. All I have to do is get my stuff to the front porch and put a sign on it saying "VVA". They come when they say they will and take the donation, then leave me a charity receipt in the door. Quick and easy, and my stuff goes to someone who can really use it after I'm through with it. I donate to other places, too, when they call, but VVA's system makes them the winners most of the time.
* My mom died just over five years ago. And yet. The mail keeps coming. The past couple of weeks there's been a blizzard of "NEW MEDICARE BENEFITS INFORMATION!" mailings. The one that really gets me, though, is the catalog "she" receives for The Limited Too, a clothing company for grade school girls. To make it worse, they ALL misspell her first name. It is aggravating. Sometimes I will send a note to the insurance companies to ask if they'll sign me up for coverage of my dead mom. I know, that's probably not respectful, but if you knew my mom, she would be laughing.
* For those of you who live in my vicinity in Oklahoma, I found the neatest information on the Oklahoma County Assessor's web site. You can see your own information about the assessed value of your house, the market value and the taxable market value. There's a picture of your house, as well as a sketch of the lot. BUT you can also look at any other address. That means you can sneak a peek at your neighbor's information. BUT even better yet, you can click one button and get all the comparable houses in your area and see their values. They even have the 10 best matches of recent sales, so you can see what that house down the street just sold for! And believe me, that is fun. No more making phoney calls to a Realtor to inquire. Sure, it's a little creepy knowing some govmint flak was taking photos of my house last September, but that's offset by knowing that the house two doors down just sold for double what I paid for my house in 1996. And my house is better (in my not-so-humble opinion.)
* Ego strokes -- I've gotten a couple of very nice e-mails from people I've recently written about. Those are always nice to receive, especially when they appreciate accuracy more than the fact that they got their name in the paper. And I just picked up a personally hand-written note in my mailbox from the president of a development company (he also had sent one of the e-mails.) That's extra effort on his part and really makes me feel appreciated.
* More ego strokes -- We've had a huge influx of new choir members at my church, which is wonderful. A larger choir always sounds better and we're always happy to have people join us. Wednesday night I got a MAJOR ego stroke from one of the new women singers with us. She had been a choir director at another church before joining us. My stroke came when she made the effort to catch me after rehearsal to tell me she really likes my voice -- not necessarily that I'm a powerhouse singer (which I definitely AM NOT). She said I had a nice tone that she really liked. Wow! Normally I am content to stand in the shadow of my good friend, Anne, who IS a powerhouse singer with a beautiful voice and tremendous range. I love singing duets with her, providing the background harmony for her. A solo singer I'm not, so I was really blown away by this compliment.
* I hate Dillard's at Penn Square Mall. More specifically, I hate the little weasel man who is the manager of the Dillard's at Penn Square Mall. I would have kicked his scrawny little butt around the store if I didn't fear arrest on assault charges. Wednesday I went there to return a jacket that was labeled "machine wash". Well, I had followed the care instructions and the jacket was ruined. Instead of refunding my $49.99 that I paid for the jacket (with the receipt in hand) Mr. Weasel would only refund $18 -- the "current value." I protested, citing the manufacturer's care label. He sniffed, looked over the top of his stupid half-glasses, disdainfully picked up a sleeve of the jacket and flipped it, saying "I wouldn't have washed this, no matter what the label said. So it's not a manufacturing defect."
Jerk. I think the stick he had stuck up his backside was poking at his brains. And now I feel better.
* Light bulbs are a pain. Last night both light bulbs in my office ceiling light blew out on me. They always go at the same time because I replace them at the same time. (Follow that?) Anyway, it seems like I'm replacing these two bulbs every other week. Also the one in the garage. Of course they are the hardest to reach, and the ones most often used. This may explain why my stepladder stays parked in my hallway just outside my office door.
* The other pain at my house is furnace filters. I had my 1951 furnace replaced with new central heat and air four or five years ago, I believe it was. There are now two air intakes in my hallway ceiling where the filters are located. One is 14 x 14 inches. Not too hard to find. The other is 14 x 24 inches, which is becoming more and more scarce. I can't find that size at Home Depot or any Sprawl Mart store. The popular size is 14 x 25 inches. I'd love to replace the filters every month, but when I can find the Filtrete filters in 14 x 24, they run about $15 each. Grr.
* Thanks for all the international votes in my Electric Blanket Vote. I've tried Jimmy Carter's advice of putting on a sweater. Somehow, it just isn't quite as satisfying to sleep wearing heavy socks, sweat pants and a sweat shirt. I normally have a sheet, thermal blanket and quilt on my bed. Sometimes I swap the quilt for a comforter, which has a little more loft. I also have a rice bag that I heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes and slip between the sheets to take the chill off. It's kind of an either-or choice, though. I can either have warm feet or warm shoulders. I'm just afraid a full body-size rice bag won't fit in the microwave -- or it would start a fire.
See y'all later -- that's all the blips from here this morning.