Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Marigold Project

One of my mother's very favorite Ellen As A Small Child stories happened when I was three.  My father grew up on a farm and always spent a lot of time planting flowers and tending his huge gardens (yes, that's plural).  I grew up surrounded by peach trees, strawberry patches, potato plants, rows of tall corn plants, vines full of watermelon and squash, and many many types of beautiful flowers.

One day when we lived in Roanoke, VA, my dad went to plant a row of marigold plants along the front of our brick house.  I followed along to help, but my help consisted of pulling up each plant right after he planted it.  He'd plant one, move along to the next, and I'd pull the first one up.  (In my defense, I'm sure I had seen him pulling up weeds, and my three-year old brain must have thought I was helping.)  He kept telling me not to, and I kept doing it.  Until finally, he turned to me and slapped my hand.

Oh no, the trauma!  I went screaming and crying into the house as though I'd been whipped.  Mom was sure that it upset me so much because my dad had never, ever spanked me in any way before (and he never did again, actually), or really disciplined me much at all. So my little feelings were tremendously hurt by the terrible slap on the hand.

I eventually quieted down, and Dad got the marigolds planted, and for the several years we lived in that house we had giant gorgeous yellow and orange marigolds in the front yard.

So recently, I was cleaning out a drawer, and found a packet of marigold seeds:

I actually can't remember where they came from, or how long I've had them.  They say they cost ten cents.  I have no idea how much seeds cost, but that seems suspiciously cheap.  It does say on the back, sell by 2008.

Strike one -- they are old seeds.

Here's the back of the package:

That little chart on the bottom shows what month you should plant in.  Since I'm in Florida, I should plant between September and February.  

I am going to do it now anyway, so -- strike two.

I got some Expert Gardener potting soil, and clay pot that my Dad gave me when he moved to Georgia.

I don't know how good my chances are, but I planted the little seeds according to directions, and then gave 'em a little water.

If this works, it'll be my little flowery tribute to my Dad.  If it doesn't, then I'll go to Target and buy some actual little baby marigold plants, and that'll be my tribute.

Wish my two-strikes-against-them marigolds luck!  I'll keep you updated on their progress, or lack thereof.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Well, someone has stolen our debit card number.  The good news is, we should be able to get all the money back.  I went to the bank today to fill out paperwork requesting the fraudulent charges be removed from our account, and we should have a refund within a week or so.

Still!  It's a scary thought to know that someone stole something from us, and we don't even know for sure how they did it.  Whoever did it used our card number on a gaming site, most of the charges were only $20 or so, totaling $255.  That's the kind of charge that can be made without having anything but the card number, and without having to have anything mailed to an address that could be traced back.  How did they get our card number, though?

  • Paying our bills online.  We pay everything except our homeowner's association fees and one car payment online, and have for several years.  This seems an unlikely possibility, since all the sites are big companies with (supposedly) secure, encrypted transactions.  I don't see how it would be possible for anyone to steal just OUR info from a site like that, it seems like the site itself would have to be hacked, and I haven't heard about anything like that happening.
  • Swiping our card at Walmart.  This seems unlikely, too, especially since we always use it as a debit transaction, and put our PIN number in.
  • Our computer being hacked.  I guess I can't say that this is impossible, but we have a Mac, and we are behind a firewall, and I would assume anyone who was able to access our whole hard drive would see how much we have in our account and take all of it, instead of only $255.  I would think...?  Not that we have hundreds of thousands, but we have more than $255.
  • Swiping our debit card at a gas station.  Apparently it's fairly common for thieves to put a skimmer device on the card reader, and a tiny pinhole camera above the number pad, and they take the info from the stripe on your card and your PIN number and create a whole new debit card.  But again, if someone had our debit card, they could just go to an ATM and clean us out -- accessing both our checking and our savings accounts, if they went to the right bank -- instead of just spending $20-$30 at a time on a website.
  • Handing our card to a server at a restaurant, who then walked away to charge it.  I really feel like this one is the most likely.  Greg went to talk to the manager a few days ago, who vehemently denied that it could have happened, and insisted that paying bills online is the real danger.  Right.  I didn't expect him to admit that it could have been his employees (or, for all we know, him), but we wanted to bring it to his attention.

I am looking on the bright side, and I'm glad that it wasn't worse.  I'm glad that we will get all our money back, even though it's inconvenient not to have debit cards for a week or so until we get new ones.

Greg bought groceries this past weekend, using a CHECK.  Weird.  It turns out they have new electronic check-paying technology, and all he had to do was sign it, then their register printed on it all the info and recorded the check number and account number, and they handed him back the check.  Today it came out of our checking account.  Remember back in the olden days, when you'd get an envelope of your used, cleared checks mailed back?  Those days are gone.  Yay for technology!

Except now I am going to be paranoid about handing my debit/credit card over to anyone at a bar or restaurant.  We may have to start actually getting cash to take when we go out.  Cash!  What a thought.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shut The Front Door!

As George Constanza said on Seinfeld:  I'm bustin', baby!

Whatever was preventing me from writing (writer's block? going through a natural process?  bad karma coming back to bite me in the butt?) is gone, and I am now back at work on my novel.

All I can say is:  WHEW.  What a relief!

To celebrate, here is my favorite photo of me, ever.  I am the wee baby and my sister is holding me.  As you can guess from her hair and frosted lipstick, this is in 1966.  Her husband walked in the room with a camera and saw us smiling at each other.  Awww.  Wanting to capture the moment, he said HEY to get us to look over at him, but he startled us, and got this pic instead.  Which is possibly even better than some boring photo of a smiling baby, don't you think?

I love how the little bit of drool makes my lips look shiny like hers.  :)

Can you see the family resemblance?