Friday, November 26, 2010

Yesterday Was Thanksgiving

And I have so much to be thankful for.

First and foremost, I am thankful for grown children who, along with their spouses and significant others, are willing to take the time and trouble to spend this holiday with me.  It was such a nice day.  Good food and good conversation.  Throw into the mix the grandchildren, and they day couldn't have been any better.  These are the same grown children who are always there for me.  Last week I couldn't get to the store and one of them picked up what I needed and delivered it to me.  I needed a ride to David's for Thanksgiving, and immediately there was an answer to my email, telling me that she would pick me up.  Another calls me to tell me about his children's good school report cards and sends me pictures sharing what they have been doing.  Still another shows up every two weeks to take me shopping and hauls heavy bags of groceries up the stairs for me, until his knuckles are dragging on the ground from the weight of them.  And they do things like this for me often.  I wonder if they know how much this means to me, how much this eases my mind and how grateful I am that I have adult children who care enough to be there for me.  Makes my life so much easier and much better than it would be without them.

I am thankful that I am able to live alone in my own home.  I was thinking about my mother and how when she was my age, she had already been living in a nursing home for a number of years due to her health.  Now at my age, there are occasionally times when my body lets me down and doesn't function the way I would like it to.  But this has never been serious enough to even consider other living arrangements.  I can still do what I need to do for myself on a daily basis.  Sometimes it just takes a little longer.  But that is OK.  I am in no big rush.

I am thankful for the little apartment that I call home.  Now some would question being thankful for a tiny apartment in the middle of a city, especially when I have been known to whine about wishing I could live in the country.  But when the truth is known, I am very thankful that I don't need to mow a lawn in the summer or shovel snow in the winter.  I have a landlord who lets me paint the walls any color I want to as opposed to the standard apartment white.  He thinks my dogs are cute.  He fixes things.  Right away.  When I was unemployed for a time, he worked with me on the rent rather than having me put out on the street as many others would have done.  He is a prince among landlords.  My apartment is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  It is home.  I like it.

I am thankful that I still pretty much have my mental capacities intact.  Alzheimer's disease has been known to occur in my family history.  I don't waste time worrying that I will be afflicted with this disease, but it is something to watch for.  My own little gauge of memory loss is passwords.  I have a number of things on my computer that require passwords.  I still remember all of them.  When the time comes when I don't, then I will think about worrying.  But not until then.  Oh, I have the memory loss that is typical of those of my vintage.  I will put something away for safekeeping and then have to hunt for it later.  I make lists of things I need to remember, like what I need to buy at the grocery store.  I write appointments and birthdays on my calendar so I won't forget them.  But I really do remember most things.  At least those things that are best remembered.

There are so many other things that I am thankful for.  I am thankful that my mother taught me to cook and bake bread and sew, for these things give me pleasure.  I am thankful that my dad had the patience to teach me how to fix things and use tools.  This came in handy not too long ago when I tore apart my sewing machine, put it back together, and it worked again.  I am thankful for a loving extended family.  Although we don't get to see one another often, just to know that they are there and that they love me as I do them, is enough.  I wonder if my brother knows how much it means to me when he says, "I love you, Sister."  And I am thankful for the ability, whether learned or inherited, to see the beauty around me even in a city, to be able to enjoy a simple life without the stress and complications that so many live with, and to be in general, a happy and contented person.

For these things, and so much more, I am truly thankful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just For Fun

This is Jacob.

Jacob is playing "Restaurant."

This kid can cook my breakfast any old time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Snow of the Season

David called me last week after the snowfall we got on Saturday.  He said that he was watching his kids who were outside making a snowman.  He said that they were really having a good time playing in the snow.

This so reminds me of a happy memory.

I have no idea why this particular memory stays with me.  I clearly recall a day when we lived in the old house on the Eddy farm.  The weather was fairly warm for winter.  The wind was calm.  It started, early in the morning, to snow.  And it kept on snowing.  Those huge flakes of snow that are so beautiful to watch.  Just floating to the ground.  By early afternoon the yard was covered with lots of snow.  Just right for snowman building.  I couldn't stand it any longer, so I bundled my kids up in warm clothes and outside we went.  We built a huge snowman.  The kids were rolling snowballs and making snow angels in the fresh snow.  Ted the dog was running and jumping and burying his head in the snow.  We had so much fun that day, topped off with hot chocolate when we finally went back indoors.

These days when my memory is sometimes hazy, I love it when I can see a day like that with my children so clearly in my mind.

I Am Back to Being Me

When I checked my email this morning, there was a message from Facebook.  It seems that they have decided that I am, after all, Me!  My account has been reactivated.  I am so relieved.  Now I can stop wondering who that person is who lives in my bathroom mirror every morning.  Or maybe not.  That person still looks more like my grandmother than the thirty year old person I always expect to see.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apparently, I'm Not a Real Person

Everyone has their morning routines.  I make my bed, feed my animals and then sit down at my computer for a while with a cup of coffee.  There are some online comic strips that I read.  I like to start each day with a smile if possible.  Makes for a happy state of mind.  I check a couple of news websites to keep up with what is going on in the world.  I check my email.  Then I look at Facebook to see what my kids and grandkids are doing that day.

When I went to log onto Facebook this morning, a message came up that my account had been disabled.  So, like everybody else who runs into a computer glitch, I tried logging in a couple more times.  You know, the theory that if you repeat an action often enough, eventually it will work!  Nope.  No such luck.

So I clicked on their help button to see why I no longer had an account.  Facebook, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that I am not real.

They say that I must provide my real first name and last name.  Last time I checked, Vicki Matheny Miller was my name.  Has been for 22 years.  The Vicki and Matheny parts have been mine for 64 years.  Nothing wrong there.

Then they say that I am prohibited from impersonating anyone or anything.  I am perfectly happy with who and what I am.  I have no desire to be anyone or anything else.  So that's not a problem.

Facebook then tells me that I am prohibited from having more than one account.  I have only one account.  Now, I do have multiple blogs.  Blogger doesn't seem to mind.  But I can think of no good reason to have more than one Facebook account.  No, that's not the problem.

Then I learn that it is "strictly prohibited" to have a profile representing celebrities, pets, ideas or inanimate objects.  Maybe that's it.  Do you suppose that while I was sleeping, Noodle or Jessie or Lily opened an account in my name?  I mean, Jessie and Lily do like to hang out with me when I am on my computer.  And goodness knows, Noodle can be a bit sneaky at times, and he does like to watch what I do from the back of my computer chair.  But no, I don't think that's it.

Facebook's last reason for getting rid of me concerns spamming and harassing.  I, to the best of my recollection, have never sent spam.  I receive a lot of it.  On any given day offers arrive in my email for all sorts of things that I couldn't possibly live without.  This morning alone, I can get my very own credit cards, learn to be an ultrasound technician, sign up for tanning sessions, charter a boat, and make my skin clear and clean.  I can also meet sexy seniors, cast a personal love spell and check the 68 messages now waiting for me on a singles dating website.  I'm thinking that none of these things are going to happen.  My children and their siblings harass each other on Facebook more than I ever thought about doing.  I really don't think that I have harassed anyone lately, with the possible exception of my mailman who has lately given my mail to other residents of my building.  Perhaps I was a bit premature on that.  After all, Facebook says that I am not me, so how can my mailman know.

So.....if any of you know just who I am, please let me know.  I would be interested to find out.  Because, after all, Facebook says that I do not exist.  And if you see it on Facebook, it must be true.

Vicki Matheny Miller (or whoever)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Good Idea

It was cold outside.  Snow was falling.  Wind was blowing.  When I walked into my bedroom, I found these two.

Seemed like a good idea.  So I joined them for a couple of hours.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Power of the Internet

For the last couple of days I have been following the drama on my favorite blog, "Chickens in the Road" (see sidebar for link).  This blog is written by a single mom who moved with her three children to a remote farm in the middle of West Virginia.  Her name is Suzanne McMinn.  As you know, many of the recipes I use came from her or contributors to her blog.  But it isn't all about just recipes.  It is about life in rural West Virginia, about her children, about her assorted animals.  I can, here in the city, read about a life I would much prefer.  And because the writer has such a delicious sense of humor, I feel good reading her blog, no matter how depressing my day has been.  She makes me laugh.  Out loud.

But Suzanne's blog is more than just a daily diary.  She is an accomplished writer and photographer.  As one who loves taking pictures, I understand how much work goes into getting just one good photo.  Suzanne's photos are phenomenal.  She has much more patience with photography than I do.  She does not sell her work with the exception of producing a yearly calendar, and her photos are used only on her blog.

Enter the bad guy.  His name is Dave Belanger.  He owns Countryside Publications which publishes four magazines geared toward farm life.  It was in the latest edition of one of those magazines that one of Suzanne's photos appeared.  In both printed and online editions.  Without her knowledge.  Without her approval.  Without credit to the photographer.  Without compensation to the photographer.  They stole the photo from her blog.  This is not a mom and pop operation.  Countryside Publications is a 5 million dollar business.  I'm pretty sure that Mr. Belanger understands something about copyrights.  I understand about copyrights, and I am just a retired grandma.

Now enter the followers of the "Chickens in the Road" blog.  We are many.  We were outraged that Mr. Belanger refused to acknowledge wrongdoing, that he not only was rude when Suzanne called him to protest the use of her photo, but had the brass to hang up on her.  When he finally decided to talk with Suzanne, then would have been the time to be a man, step up to the plate, admit he was wrong, apologize, promise never to steal again, and put a check in the mail.  He did not.  He blamed an editor who, he said, got the photo while browsing the internet looking for a cover photo for the magazine.  (Now that is scary.  I wonder how many others have been stolen from by these people.  How many of the photos you all post on Facebook or I post on my blog will wind up being used for purposes other than those for which they were intended.)  Suzanne said that had they requested the use of the photo in question, she would have let them use it - free of charge - with only credit and a link to her blog appearing with the photo.  So we made phone calls to Mr. Belanger's office.  And we sent emails as well, expressing our outrage.  A few calls were made to the Better Business Bureau complaining about the unethical practices of this company.  The story was picked up by other bloggers and appeared on Facebook pages.  There was talk among "Chickens in the Road" followers about putting together a list of the advertisers in Countryside Publications and starting an email campaign to inform these companies about the lack of ethics of said  photo thieves.

This morning we saw the power of the Internet.  Suzanne reported on her blog that Mr. Belanger had called her, apologized and had mailed her a check for the full amount she requested.  It seems that he had read the blog with the many comments that were not favorable to him or to his company, which included the intention of some to cancel subscriptions.  He also saw in one of the posts that Suzanne fully intended to sue him and his company for unauthorized use of her photo.  It wasn't about the money, but about just plain honesty and integrity.  And the fact that it seems to be a common thought that in a David and Goliath situation like this one, the Goliaths of the world seem to think that the Davids don't possess the courage or resources to fight them.  Or they believe that it is OK to steal from a blog.  Or from any resource maintained by the "little guys" of the world.  It isn't.  Stealing is stealing.

I do believe that this time, again, David won the skirmish.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Have Lots of Help

My cats are really helpful.  Don't know what I would do without them.

Fat Cat  Kizzie is a huge help to me.

She helps me clean out dresser drawers.  She is really good at it.  Sometimes after she cleans them out for me, she takes a nap inside the empty drawer.  This time she didn't get the drawer open quite far enough for that, though.  Guess I should be happy that she can reach only the bottom one.

Kiley is really good at holding down my bed so it doesn't float away.  She stays at her post, uncomplaining, day and night.  Must work.  The bed hasn't floated off into space yet.  Good job, Kiley.

And then there is Noodle.  He has taken it upon himself to see to it that I don't drown in the shower.  He does this by perching on the ledge above the bathtub like a vulture.  It is a bit disconcerting, really.  I haven't showered alone for years.  Well, with the exception of the times when he has first gotten himself locked in a closet.  Noodle is sneaky.  Open a closet door, he is there.  I don't always see him before shutting the door.  After being awakened several times about 3 AM to let him out of the closet, I have learned to check on his whereabouts before going to bed.  But as a lifeguard, he is tops.

Keep up the good work, guys.  You make my life interesting.