Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Challenge For You

Here's a challenge for you.

I've worked at the same place for 28 years. Over that time I have waited on some of the same customers that long. They have always lived in town and I have seen them either every work day or at least once a month, depending on the customer.

I have learned various things about different customers. We have learned the hobbies of some and know who to ask questions about different categories.

There are ones who I have become friends with and have expanded our relationship to out of work. But something interesting happened last year.

I got involved with a Bible study group with this couple who I have waited on forever. I always treated them like a customer but never knew them very well. Last year I had such a treat in getting to really know them. I was so glad I had that opportunity. It was such a treasure that was under my nose the whole time. Look at all the years that I wasted not really knowing them.

I wonder how many other treasures are out there that we all pass by every day.
Here's a challenge...take the time to find out a little more about someone who God keeps putting in your life. Perhaps there is a reason that they are on the outskirts of your life all the time--whether it be a regular grocery bagger, a bank teller or a friend of a friend that you keep seeing--take the time to know a little more about them. You may get the greatest treasure--a new friend. I know I got so much richer from having those two new people in my life. (Not to mention a couple of other customers who I connected with and have become friends with--but that was a more logical evolving). Go out on a limb and ask that person about their kids or their home or what movie they've seen recently--show an interest and you may find yourself richly blessed. I hope you do.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bunny Blues and Going Postal

I was going to write a song--"I got the bunny ate my flowers blues" (see previous blog), but I'm going to let it go--even though every time I come home I see the crime scene. I must move on and forgive.

In the past I have given you some insight into behind the scenes at the post office. No one could imagine everything a small town postmaster does. Since we are on our own out in the offices managing everything, the higher management seems to come up with so many different procedures so that they can be sure that we are doing everything perfectly and to be sure we are not bored--I have never had a day in my 11 years of being a postmaster when I was all caught up and had nothing to do.

So, the latest test of our ability was a post office box audit. In theory this doesn't sound bad. It's an inventory of how many post office boxes are in your office of each size, their numbers, how many are rented, how many are available and how many are broken. It also entailed some other filing duty things, but that was minor (well, kind of purging files and combining others).

Well, physically counting should be easy. I have over 450 boxes and then another set of over 200 that were installed and will never ever be used. I didn't worry about the 200.

Well, let me tell you what I was doing for four days. First we must sort the mail and do our daily required reports and read our emails. Then I could start this project. We have four different walls that hold post office boxes in our little office. So, I start with the smallest section and the easiest because all but two of the boxes are the same size. Simple--just count how many across and how many down and multiply and add two. This is how it goes, "one, two, three, four" oops--wait on customer. Back, "one, two, three, four, five--one row done." Wait on customer. Back "one, two". Wait on customer. Back "one," phone rings. You get the idea. That was the easy part of counting--then counting how many were rented, not rented--I think I was ready to cry at one point. In a small office after the mail is sorted, the postmaster works alone multi-tasking to the hilt.

Then we had to compare the figures to a program on the computer, an edit book we have, and two other programs on the computer and spot check them with our physical cards. Are we having fun yet?

No, you don't know what fun is. You see, one program was in numerical order and another is in physical order, which is unfortunately not the same. Years ago when the world was simpler, previous postmasters were so nice to customers. A customer would have one size box and want a different size--not a problem until the postmaster let them keep their own number. The problem? That puts the post office boxes out of sequence. I tease clerks who come from other offices that you have to learn to count "East Hartland". Example, 235,236,231! What is worse is 350,273,376--all in sequence. That's just a sampling. If I had only carefully selected the hairs that I pulled out, I would not have any gray.

Well after four days of madness, I finally put in an hour of overtime so I could work on it straight without interruption. I am so glad to be done.

The next project...they just sent out a DVD and stack of reading material which is mandatory training equivalent to 5 hours. Used to be we had to drive to New Haven for training. I am glad not to have to do that and they are wise not having to pay us travel pay any more. However, here we go again. I have to watch the dvd and read the "fascinating" training between my other work--5 hours of training will take at least 7 hours.

So, there's a sneak peek at some of the behind the counter doings at a small post ofice. Now where would they ever come up with the term "going postal"?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Great Flower Caper

Let me first give you some background about me. I do not have a green thumb, though sometimes I like to dabble with a pale green one. My efforts are weak, but last year a neighbor even commented on my little area by my park bench near the road. That encouraged me to continue on.

Last year I bought a little wooden bridge that holds flowers and I bought annuals to put on it. I also got some ceramic bird decorations and I have a container displaying my smooth ocean rocks that I hand picked on each of our trips. I bought a couple of plants. All of this is near our memory plaque for our beloved dog, Patches.

My kids gave me a gnome with a solar lantern for Mother's Day that will also be added to my little "park".

This year I got out the bridge and happily went to the Meadow View Farm (see previous blog) and put some pretty yellow and red flowers on it. Then I bought these cute yellow daisy type flowers that were also annuals (see how "into" flowers I am?--I don't know the names--though the tags are still in the pots.) I also bought some phlox that are perennials, to have something that might come up again like the tulips.

Well, I was lazy about the yellow daisy type flowers and the phlox and just kept them in their pots by the bench for now. I figured I'd get around to planting them in a couple of days. As I pulled in the driveway yesterday, I noticed the yellow pot was tipped over. Well, it was windy. I picked it up.

Today it was knocked over again and a few of the petals had fallen off. I picked it up again and tried to push the pot into the ground but it wouldn't go far. I decided tonight I would plant them.

So, I come home tonight and I couldn't believe my eyes! The pot is there, but the flowers are gone! I looked again. At first thought, I wondered if a neighbor kid had picked them, but we really don't have any kids who would do that. I realized something must have eaten them.

THEN I looked over and all the flower parts of the phlox were eaten too! At least if I plant those roots, they may come up again. I can't believe I've been a victim of flower theft.

I have been mulling over the suspects. We have some pretty bold chipmunks running all around digging holes. I have come home and had to tell one, "Excuse me." because he wouldn't move when I was walking to the house.

Then there's the kooky squirrels--flitting around here and there. I've been told there is a bear but I don't think he would stoop for the flowers when the neighbors have bird seed.

Alas, I think the guilty party is a rabbit. Rabbits seem so harmless and cute. How can I be mad at them? Now, I'm curious, why he didn't touch the flowers in the bridge. They mustn't be tasty. Maybe I should taste flowers before I buy them? I think I'll stick to gnomes, ceramic birds and things like that. I just can't force my thumb to turn green. It doesn't seem meant to be for me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

72nd Annual Winsted Rotary Pet Parade

The Winsted pet parade brings up all kinds of memories for us. We used to always take the kids if they did not participate. Now if you are thinking what is so great about a pet parade? This is the most unique pet parade I have ever seen.

Yes, there are kids walking dogs, or pulling wagons with rabbits, ducks, guinea pigs, cats, pigs--whatever you call a pet, it is welcome. If that were simply the whole of the pet parade, I would not be there. Then there are kids riding bikes, scooters, or motorized cars. There's always a horse or two. This year there was a llama. That still wouldn't be enough to get me back.

There were three marching bands. They were enjoyable. What parade doesn't have marching music?

No, the thing I like best about this particular parade are the costumes. Kids are allowed to dress as a character--"Hannah Montana" was there, along with the entire Wizard of Oz crew and a whole section dedicated to Dr. Seuss with the Grinch, and the Cat in the Hat and others. I like to see the clever ideas that people come up with for that division.

Unfortunately, this year the parade was only a half hour long. We have seen it twice that size. I hate to think that it is losing its appeal. There were not as many kids in costume. There were several poor dogs in costumes, though.

As I sat on the blanket on the hill where we had a perfect view, I remembered past pet parades. Tiffany wore her the full skirt that we got so much mileage out of during Halloween and other occasions. She was Little Bo Peep with her staff and a big hat looking for her sheep. I remember the first year we got Patches and Ben walked with him. One or two years the kids rode in the church's float or marched with them singing. I remember Tiffany's last year when she and a friend were the 7-Up Spot and something else to do with that soda ad.

My favorite year was the one when I was frantically trying to put together something at the last minute for Ben. We took a wagon and put cardboard on top--kind of like a square covered wagon. We cut holes out of the cardboard and stuck stuffed animals in them with their heads sticking out (a make shift ark) and the Ben, as Noah, wore a bathrobe, sandals, and he used the same Bo Peep Staff (which was actually a walking cane that was too big for them). Then I made him a beard out of white cotton batting. He was only about 3 or 4. I think I had to pull the wagon for him. I was pleased how well everything came out and especially pleased when he won a ribbon for his division. I know I was happier about that than him!

So, even if the pet parade loses some of it's old charm, we will always have the memories and I am thankful for the venue that they created for that 72 years ago.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Ride with Flowers, Coffee and Donuts

Well, for those of you in the area, I want to give you a suggestion for a ride. Take Route 10/202 out of Granby, CT heading into Southwick, MA. A couple of miles over the MA border you will see a big flower farm on your right. If it's the weekend, there will probably be a policeman directing traffic. The hours are 9am-6pm, seven days a week but it's only for May and June.

I went today and picked up a hanging basket that had four different types of flowers combined. It is so beautiful. They have such an assortment that is hard to decide. Then they have tables and rows and rows of vibrant colored flowers--some under a roof, some outside. I just wanted to pick up a few for my yard. There are so many--decisions, decisions. At only $1.49 for for a little slab, I got to pick up several different types. Now I hope the frost is finally gone!

Well after you've satisfied your eyes with the gorgeous flowers and your nose with the wonderful fragrances, continue on Rt. 202 about a mile and you can get gas for a few cents cheaper than CT. Then take a right onto Congamond Road and about a mile down there, go to Red Riding Hood's Basket and enjoy a coffee and pastry or breakfast casserole or light lunch. We love the atmosphere there too. You can continue down the road and check out Congamond Lakes, or...

If you back track to Rt. 202 and continue further into Southwick down the road...You'll pass Dunkin' Donuts on the left (how it stays in business there, I don't know because...) on the right look for the sign, "Mrs. Murphy's Donuts". Guaranteed the parking lot will be full and you'll see why. You could get a breakfast there, but the draw are the donuts that they make on the premises. The number one favorite is cinnamon. They are so fresh and a special treat. They do have many other pastry treats too, but everyone in this corner of the world knows "Mrs. Murphy's".

If you really want to make a longer day of it, continue to Westfield, MA to Stanley Park. A gorgeous park with flowers, picnic areas and hiking. In the summer they often have concerts on some evenings. It's quite big and a nice place to get away from it all.--I won't go into the letterboxes that are supposedly hidden there. We only tried to find one and weren't successful. We'll go back another time to try for another.

Well,if you were looking for something to do this spring, there's an idea, whatever you do, enjoy this beautiful springtime--it will be over before you know it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Odds & Ends

Well, more has been coming out about Jason Castro. He did not intentionally flub the song lyrics. I bet he was too rattled after the critiques from his first song. And he was not saying, "Don't Vote", he was saying, "vote, vote". Oh, well. He said that he will see where music leads him, so I sure hope he makes some Cd's. I have bought many of his songs off of I-tunes and I think he is fantastic.

Last night we finally saw "The Bucket List", so now we can cross it off our list. It was not as funny as I thought it was going to be. It had humorous moments and of course, sad too. It was good. I liked the comparisons between the different kinds of wealth--Jack Nicholson's character alone with more money than he could ever spend, no belief in the after life and Morgan Freeman's character, a car mechanic, with a loving family and faith in God--it was made clear who was the richer man and they shared their different kinds of richest with each other. I think I would like to read the book. I rarely read a book after a movie--only the other way around, but this is one I would like to read. The only other movies that made me want to read the books were "Forrest Gump" (and I was a little disappointed in the book) and "The Christmas Story"--the book was, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" (in that case, I was not at all disappointed in the book.)

Well, now we are off to think of our own bucket list. If you thought I was going to share it, sorry. I think such lists are private, but if it is something big that we get to cross off, we'll probably let you know. At least we know that we are wealthy with family and friends and faith in God--hope you have such wealth too.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ode to Jason Castro

Well, I knew it was inevitable. Jason is off the American Idol. I loved his uniqueness. Also, it seems like all the others had more experience than him. Even young David A. has been in competitions and performed. I would rather they limited American Idol to people who hadn't performed or recorded before--give someone like that a chance. Well, back to Jason.. it's true I did not like his "I Shot the Sheriff". It's interesting though the publicity about all this. Even Simon Cowell said that Jason intentionally flubbed the words in the second song because he wanted to be voted off. They are even showing that he mouthed the words, "don't vote" when his numbers were shown. Rumor has it that he wants to go home to his girl friend and that he doesn't want to go on tour. I don't know what kind of legal problems he would have with that. I don't care so much about the tour, but I sure hope he doesn't give up on his career. I would buy his Cd's more than any of the others because he is different. In fact, I have bought several of his songs off of I-tunes. I don't want this to be the last that we hear of Jason.

So, now Jason is saying "hallelujah" and "what a day for a daydream" as relaxes "forever in blue jeans" "somewhere over the rainbow". "If I fell in love" with Jason, he better not disappear leaving me forever wishing for more like I felt about Jim Croce.

David Archeletta now gets my vote for idol.

What do cats, boomerangs, colds and 4 am have in common?

I have been thinking lately about a cartoon my kids watched. It was about this cat, I can't remember if someone was trying to get rid of it but no matter what happened to the cat, the song says, "and the cat came back the very next day, we thought he was a goner, but the cat came back."

I am also thinking of boomerangs. You see what these things have in common and unfortunately they are in great company with my stupid cold. I haven't had a cold for several years and I am making up for lost time! I had a cold for two weeks. Snuck in a few days of feeling well and now it came back, it boomeranged. I am pretty frustrated with this. I had to cancel two things a couple of weeks ago. One I snuck in last week. Now this weekend I am determined to plug along and not cancel my re-scheduled outing Friday night, and last Saturday we cancelled because George was sick and so that's rescheduled this Sat. As long as this cough seems to be going away, I'm going to do it all-even if I have to take naps.

I actually slept straight through from 11pm to 4am without waking last night--I usually wake a couple of times during the night. AND I would have slept later except I was awoken by a kitty tongue on my face. Joshua decided that he wanted to express his love to me at that early hour. I have a hard time pushing away love, so I patted him and he kept licking and wanting more. I do have to say enough is enough after a while and usually if I roll over he goes away or lays on top of me. Cats are so funny. I can try to pat him during the day and often he'll say okay, but sometimes, he'll let me know, "not now". So, maybe I shouldn't feel badly giving him some of his own medicine snubbing him at 4 am! No, I can't resist an affectionate animal--unconditional love, nothing beats that.

Many people are having allergy problems and I found a nice website that compared colds to allergies. It clearly showed me I have a cold. I have heard of a few other people with this boomerang cold, or (I thought that once you got a particular cold virus that you wouldn't get that one again, I don't know) maybe it's back to back colds. I do think I have different cold symptoms this time. Whatever, I am tired of not being clear headed in my thoughts. I'll be blogging better when my head is clearer.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Well, that last entry was to let you know where you can get a free sample of Dunkin Donuts coffee. I'm always sending for free samples of things. Wal-mart is pretty generous with samples.

I think God is playing a funny trick. We have tried for a few weeks to go see the movie, "The Bucket List". If you don't know, it is a movie about a guy who is dying and has made a list of things to do before he kicks the bucket. I have joked with several people that as soon as we see this, I bet George makes a list.

Well, we are so fortunate that the Gilson has held this over for 7 weeks! Last week we did not realize that you needed reservations on the weekend. We made reservations for this Saturday and George got sick. They told me at the Gilson that they thought they would be holding it over another week.--A few years ago they held over "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" for what seemed like the whole summer. He said "The Bucket List" keeps selling out. So, we'll try again. Anybody want to join us? Let us know and we'll make reservations.

I think this is God's joke--start the list now and on the list put, "see the movie, The Bucket List".

Watched the 1958 original "Matchmaker" movie today that "Hello Dolly" came from. It had Anthony Perkins, Robert Morse (one of my favorites), Shirley Booth, Paul Ford and Shirley McClaine. I didn't know it was originally written by Thorton Wilder. It was fun to watch and fun when the characters sometimes directly spoke to the audience. I was waiting for them to break out singing, "Hello, Dolly", but it was not a musical. I enjoy good old black and white movies. I am so grateful for AMC and TCM channels.

Well, need to make a list of things to do tomorrow. No, it's not a bucket list. If we start that, I'll let you know.

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