Friday, August 30, 2013

Thank God for Mississippi

I needed to turn in the tag off Mama's car. After looking online at the SC DMV site, I saw I could mail it in or bring it to the DMV. Knowing there was a tax refund involved, I called the Tax Assessor's office and was told  I needed to take the tag to the DMV and get a receipt. 

So off to the DMV I went (I would rather have a root canal.) The triage lady (she who controls all) told me that the DMV could not give me a receipt until I filled out a form, which she handed me, and she went on to explain that when I returned I needed to have all my estate documentation with me. I thanked her and explained it would be most helpful if all this was on the web site. She looked at me as if I was referring to spiders. 

So I had to go back home, new form in hand, and plan another trip to the DMV before I could go to the Assessor's office. Would this madness ever end? 

After a good nights sleep and a diet coke or two, I dedicated my lunch hour for another outing to the DMV. I proudly handed the triage lady the completed form. She studied it up and down and then said, "Now I need a government issued picture ID." She looked as if she hoped I did not have one so she could once again dismiss me. But, alas I disappointed her -  I had my current valid SC drivers license. 

After she scanned my ID and checked to make sure it was indeed me, she gave me slip of paper. I was customer number A-110 and was told to look at the flat screen to see  when my number came up. I sat down and looked at the screen. Customer number C-306 was currently being taken care of. I hoped this was new math.

I did not even have long enough to send a sarcastic Tweet about my situation before my number came up. The lady I was assigned to was very friendly, and better yet, competent. I handed her all my paperwork and the tag. She smiled and handed the estate documentation back, "Honey, you can keep those. I don't need them." "You don't?" "No. That doesn't have anything to do with this transaction." "Perhaps, you should tell your triage lady." And, then I explained what I had been told. Her response, "I am so sorry you made another trip."

"OK, now I need your mother's driver's license or social security number." She could tell from the look on my face, not only did I not have either, I may have a melt down right there in front of God and everybody. Thanks to the answers to a few questions, she was able to pull up the information she needed. About that time apparently the entire computer system for the DMV statewide went down. The supervisor came behind the counter and told everyone,"I'm sorry but we are down. I'm not sure how long it will be before we are up again. You may just want to go home and come back tomorrow when everything is running smoothly."

As she walked off, my lady just kept on typing. Eventually she printed out a piece of paper and handed it to me."Now honey, this is what you need to take to the Assessor's office for the tax refund. Your mother also paid her tag fees two years in advance and I just think you should get a refund for that so I put it in the system. You'll get a check, probably next week." "Oh thank you. I thought your system was down." "Well, it is. But I was able to get this in before it crashed. I knew you didn't need to make another trip down here."

I thanked her profusely and left. As I walked out of that office several things came to my mind. First, I must really look frazzled for her to be so concerned about me. Do folks go "motor"? Well, if employees go  "postal", one would think that citizens would go "motor"? But, I digress.

No wonder jokes and disparaging remarks are made about the incompetence of many of our state services. Thank God for West Virginia and Mississippi. Without the kind folks in those states we would be ranked at the bottom of every thing. They, at least, give us a fighting chance, bless their hearts.

Photography Post - Cafe in Little Havana

A typical eatery in Little Havana.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

23 Days Until the Clown Car Stops

23 days until I start my sequestered sabbatical, or as some might say, my days of unemployment. As an optimist, I prefer the former. Several weeks ago I realized  that I may have some time to myself to actually plan and do things I have personally wanted to do for years, but could not due to the encumbrances of a full time job. That perhaps, I could take a year off and travel or write or clean up/out the house. It would not be the most fiscally responsible thing to do, but then at 53, perhaps living on the edge is not such a bad thing.

For years I have heard stories of women who spend their time playing tennis, lunching, and shopping. These women do not have the stress of deadlines (unless one counts a carpool or court time) nor does their day require the juggling skills of a circus performer. I pine for my only decision to be which Chardonnay I have with lunch.

Of course, I can also spend the time productively - looking for a real, honest to God, paying job. The way I see it, as soon as I settle into the idea that I will have a chance, for the first time in 30 years, to do some things I have longed for, a good job opportunity will come along and the responsible side of me will take over and I will once again be back in the rat race. 

For those unaware, being a responsible party, in your mid fifties in America is not all it is supposed to be. And, the members of Congress who still have their jobs are quick to say that the sequester really doesn't hurt middle America. Personally, I think 20% of Congress should be eliminated to make sure they understand what their inability to wear big boy pants has caused hundreds of thousands of American Workers. But, I digress.

I feel certain in 23 days, I will have a plan or at least a list of what I want to get accomplished. Everyone needs a place to start. Until then, life will go on as usual. One thing is for certain, those folks who say they couldn't stop working because they need to stay busy, don't have a life. I love my job, but I have a life. And, for 30 years, it has taken a back seat to everything else. So, if I get 1 week, 2 months, whatever to catch up, I plan to enjoy every moment of it. 

What do folks who do not work do between 8 and 5 during the day any how? Inquiring minds want to know.

Photography - Pay Phone

This is so typical of the Caribbean culture - the bright colors and a pay phone, something you are unlikely to find any where else.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Photography Post - Tower Theater

The Theater first opened in December of 1926 as a Wometco movie house. It was remodeled in 1931 and reopened with its rich Art Deco design as the Tower Theater, with the iconic tower on the top giving it its name. It has been a land mark of Miami ever since and is located in the heart of Little Havana. 

And, once again, it is closed for renovation.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Rite of Passage for the Fall Equinox

 Labor Day is about upon us and that brings to mind the up coming "Changing of the Clothes" - that bi-annual ritual I celebrate generally around the spring and fall equinox. This is the ceremonial removal of the past seasonal clothes in exchange for those of the coming season. One could call it the cleansing of the closet. This simple rite of passage (between the attic and the bedroom) often gives me a new lease on life. In other words, I have "new" clothes to wear. But, I digress.

Of course they are not "New" new, they new because I have not seen them in six months and they replace those I have grown weary of wearing.  And, as usual, when I am packing up the past season's garments I find I did not wear a good 30% of them during the year. I was reading an article that said if there is something in your closet that you have not worn in a year (unless it is formal attire or some sporting gear, my fencing suit for instance) that you should discard it immediately. Looking at the abundant Rubbermaid totes (I have been wearing the same clothes for years - just adding a few pieces each year) certainly this applies to me. 

But where do I start?  After surveying the piles of shirts, pants, sweaters, and skirts, I manage to select 2 shirts and a sweater I feel are sacrificially eligible. There has to be more. And, as I look I start to question whether or not I really can part with the chosen sweater. Why do we become so attached to things down here? Honest to God trying to part with old clothes of mine is as about as easy as prying a gun from Charlton Heston's cold dead hands. 

It took me 4 years after I had lost weight and had worn the same size for 2 years to part with my boxes of size 10, size 12, and size 14 clothes. And, even then it was painful. What if I gained the weight back? There were some of my favorite clothes in those boxes. Yes, I looked like a Pygmy elephant in them, but, as long as I did not have a mirror in front of me, and lived in deniable bliss, I was a happy little elephant. I gave the boxes to Goodwill and found the act cathartic. Now, it would be way too expensive to gain the weight back - I could not afford a new wardrobe.

Our parent's generation went through the depression and they had a sense of saving and being prepared. My mother-in-law kept a pantry stocked with an extra everything she needed - which was quite convenient when you were cooking at night long after the stores closed and realized you were out of waxed paper. Not only did she have 2 rolls of waxed paper, she had it in 2 sizes, as well as 2 unopened rolls of aluminum foil, parchment paper, and saran wrap. But, we did not grow up with such a habit of reserve.

You're lucky if can find a good half roll of aluminium foil in our house and I use it frequently. Usually there's parchment paper, but it's best to check the roll before you start baking. In fact, I have to check for everything before I start cooking anything. However, if I am getting dressed, and need a peach colored sweater, I have 5 to choose from. They vary in shade, design, and sleeve length. Is that sad or what?

So my goal this year is to pare down my summer wardrobe, purge my closet of all the clothes I have not worn since 2012. Will this improve my fashion sense of a 50 year old woman? Not really. Reality sucks- I am a fifty something year old woman. But, on with the duty at hand.  To misquote Lady Macbeth, "Out, damned [clothes]! out, I say! One; two: why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!

I'll start with the sweaters. On second thought, I'll start with the shirts, sweaters are so practical, I probably need to keep them. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Don't Insult Our BBQ then Say You Like It

Folks, it is one thing to make disparaging remarks about our culture, especially our food, as one law maker from Colorado did this week (but I will not mention State Senator Vickie Marble's name). And, to go on about the negative long term health consequences we pay enjoying our cuisine. I'm not arguing either point. However, she needs to keep two things in mind - everything in moderation and we fought a damn war down here trying to hold on to doing things our way and keep others out of our business. 

I am pretty damn sure that our right to eat good food, including BBQ, was considered in our most recent unpleasantness. Come to think of it, we held on to our good food and excellent cuisine which now has folks from all over (including Colorado - obviously) flocking here to enjoy it and buying gillions of cookbooks trying to emulate it. (Good luck with that one.) But, I digress.

But, the worse part, of her ignorant rude remarks was not just the end where she said "Although I gotta say, I've never had better BBQ and better chicken and ate better in my life then when you go down South, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it," but was in her defense later when she added " I cater weddings and do BBQ's. That's my favorite." Honey, you can't kill the cook and expect to eat his food next week - and make money doing so. 

But then bless her heart, she can't help it, she probably doesn't know any better.

Photography Post - Gates at Vizcaya

Gates at Vizcaya, James Deering's Villa in Coconut Grove on Biscayne Bay.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spare Dimes and Pink Slips

For the first time in 33 years, on October 1st, I have no job. (Well, as of today there are no plans.) Thanks to the sequester - yes, folks it does effect real people - my job cannot be renewed. And, since I fall in that black hole of "Fifty something year olds being squeezed out of the work force," I will be joining the ranks of the unemployed, 'mister can you spare a dime' population. 

I have spent the past several months chasing options and leads. When I considered staying in Cayman and scaling fish, I wasn't kidding. Why not? Suddenly, for several reasons, I am more open minded than ever. The first is obvious - I have no pride and need a job. The other is that at my age, I have come to the conclusion (yes, I am very slow) that perhaps someone can do something that they truly enjoy, an occupation that is creative, productive - where you feel like you are truly contributing to the world. Not a job, but a livelihood, maybe even a passion. 

Well, now that I have shared my dreams that my next job be more a calling, maybe some mission, I best get back to the matter at hand and reality. I need employment that pays money. In a perfect world, my career would continue with a phone call from some needy employer. Hell, in a perfect world, I would have won the lottery and my only decision would involve my next travel itinerary.

So, I move forward. If anyone has any suggestions, pass them along. 

Photography Post - Cuban Lady in Little Havana

A Cuban lady cutting up fruit in a fruit stand in Little Havana in Miami.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Photography Post - Bay View from Vizcaya

In 1914 James Deering (whose father started what became International Harvester) built Vizcaya, an interpretation of an 18th century Italian Villa. The house and gardens originally occupied over 130 tropical acres in the Coconut Grove area of Miami. The formal gardens were not completed until 1922.

This is the view from the back overlooking the Biscayne Bay. The ship is concrete and a permanent part of the house's design. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Photography Post - 2 people 2 balconies

More Cuban's on their balconies - if you look in the windows of the white house, you will see that part of it has been gutted. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Photography Post - Old Cars

A view from the windshield of our car in Havana. Yes, you feel as if you are in a time warp. Then a late model Lexus will pass you and your mind will suddenly wake-up in total confusion.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Photography Post - Balcony view from above

A view from a hotel top restaurant in Havana Vieja. Even here, you can see clothes being dried on the balconies. In the upper left corner is part of the fortress guarding the Bay of Havana.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Photography Post - Country Store

An old country store, you cannot read it in the picture, but the sign on the left side reads "Corn for Sale" written by hand in faded red letters. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Elysium, a Movie Review

Last night we went to see Elysium starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. If given more choices of movies this would not have not been my first, but we had seen everything else playing at the theater at the time we were there. The New York Times reviews were OK, they didn't pan it. I did not care for the trailers - earth savaged, nothing green left, just a smog infested, over populated wasteland. Meanwhile, high above the filth is the utopia called "Elysium", an ideal wealthy green paradise filled with gardens and white mansions, where no one dies, and any illness or disease can be instantly rid from the body through the Med-pods installed in every one's home.

The people on Earth are not allowed to immigrate to Elysium. Naturally, they are totally ruled by droids (robots) controlled by the government of Elysium, because no human from up there wants to venture down to the now barren Earth. And, the very few Elysium citizens who do only visit occasionally to run the factories. Otherwise the Earth is controlled by fear through the ever present "human" droids that over see most aspects of their lives.  

Some reviewers saw it as a political commentary on the fractured society and how the divide between rich and poor was growing greater. I did not find it that deep. As usual Jodie Foster is very strong in her role (as a very determined defense minister who will stop at nothing to keep Elysium free of those "others"). Not everyone on Elysium is as cold hearted as she is. Matt Damon plays the role of machine worker on Earth who finds himself in need of the instant medical cures Elysium offers.

As the New York Times noted, one thing different about this and all the other Earth-has-been-ravaged movies, is there is no view of the New York skyline, thankfully. The story line is in Los Angeles, although one would have a hard time recognizing it. The movie was more enjoyable than I feared and less an action film than I dreaded. There were one or two combat scenes I could have done without, but I am a 53 year woman, so shoot me. 

And, yes there is a boy meets girl, girl disappears, girl reappears, but I will not spoil that for you. Will Secretary Delacourt (Foster) keep the "others" at bey? Will Max (Damon) get the medical treatment he so badly needs? Can Spider (Wagner Moura)'s wiles and network save Earth? Will Kruger (Sharlto Copley) be able to protect Elysium? Oh, so much to learn in 109 minutes.

Photography Post - Cactus

Cactus at the San Diego Zoo.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Confessions and Hoop Skirts

When I got to college, for the first time, I was exposed  to folks from all parts of the country. Well, that is if you are not counting all the kids from Florida that I went to summer camp with. They were just displaced Yankees, one generation back at most. But, I digress.

Of course during Freshman year the ratio of drinking to studying is skewed much more toward the former. (My freshman GPA will attest to that.) Often late into the evening, when conversations around the pitchers of beer got philosophical, those from up North would start ragging on us from the South. Now keep in mind, we were in Charleston at the time, and one would think they would have a certain reverence for our most recent unpleasantness, given they were in the Holy City. But, then again my Daddy always reminded me (seriously in jest) that anyone above the Mason Dixon line was  a heathen or suspect at best. 

Eventually at some point the question of hoop skirts would come up. "Do you have one?" "Have you ever had one?" "Does your Mother have one?" This is where it got interesting and I got their attention, because the answer was "No, Yes, and Yes." After a bunch of "You're kidding? Right?", I had to decide whether to leave it there and let their imaginations run wild or go ahead and tell the stories of my youth. 

Given, by this time, I had lost my inhibitions, I made sure my glass of beer was full and launched forth. 

First I had to tell about Daddy and his friends running around every weekend reenacting what was going to be the fall of the South during the Centennial of the War. And, since they were so dead set on getting the details correct, Mama was tasked with making his uniform. She had found the right grey wool, gold braiding for the collar and sleeves, red trim for the cuffs, and gold cording. I wasn't sure Simplicity or Butterick made patterns for uniforms, but she managed to produce an excellent reproduction of a Confederate uniform. 

Part of the re-enactments of the War involved the grand balls that were held when the troops were home celebrating occasions such as holidays and other memorable dates. And, Mama, made herself a ball gown. Now I am not talking about some sleek shimmery strapless kind one wears to Deb Balls or Cotillions today, but a fancy dress of blue satin with ruffles and lace to accompany Daddy in his full regalia. And, to make it complete she had a hoop skirt. Given my Mama was only 5' 2" at the time, seeing her in this dress with all the frills and lace over a two boned hoop skirt that must have been, at least, 4 feet in diameter, made quite the statement.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, one Halloween I wanted to be a Southern Belle. My Daddy laughed at me and said that was not an appropriate costume for Halloween. I begged so much, that Mama said she would make me a ball gown to wear for "Dress Up" later on, but not for Halloween. My costume that year was a witch and, try as I might, I could not convince my parents that witches wore hoop skirts. 

So later on Mama made me a pink ball gown with lace, not nearly as fancy as hers, but it thrilled me. And I had my very own hoop skirt. While walking around with a hoop skirt on makes your dress float as if were on air, no one told me that learning to sit in one was no easy task. (Carol Burnette had a great skit that showed the perils of sitting in a hoop skirt.) Bottom line, I think you will find Scarlett O'Hara standing, walking, or sitting on the ground more than sitting on a chair in GWTW. At the early age of 9, I could appreciate that. 

So yes, I didn't marry my cousin, I do wear shoes, I cannot claim kin to General Lee, I'll admit we lost the War, and I did own a hoop skirt once. Are you satisfied? 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

See What You Made Me Do?

My Mama told me there would be days like these. But, sometimes I really wonder if I can walk and chew gum  at the same time- although I distinctly remember successfully doing the two simultaneously - at least once. 

Yesterday I was at my bank's drive through window depositing money in lieu of having to withdraw it - what a novel idea! One of my daughters called. She started off detailing the deep drama occurring in her life. Every minute or so, I tried to interject a word or two.

Eventually, I got my money and left the bank. Since I was in the process of running errands, to keep from losing time with what, I knew, could turn into a lengthy saga, I decided to multi-task and move on to the next item on my list - the UPS store.

As I pulled out of the bank parking lot, I was actually able to ask a question. Then as I pulled into the UPS store, I got in a follow up. Finally the story made some sense and I was beginning to understand her plight. However, we disagreed. At 53, this much drama was not worth the time. In fact, just listening to the details exhausted me.

I sat in my car in the parking lot of the UPS store, trying to be the patient parent, there to support my child in her time of need. Certainly, at some point, she would take a breath so I could get a word in "edge wise" (as my Mama used to say). But, it was to no avail. 

Finally, she said, "Mama, are you listening to me?" Actually, by that time I wasn't, because I looked down and on the seat beside me was the tube from the drive through at the bank. As was I getting pulled into the drama of her call, I had just taken my deposit slip, along with the tube it was in from the drive through, and driven off. All I could think of was - how embarrassing was this going to be to walk back in the bank and explain why I had their tube? Was this considered theft? Worse yet, was it a federal crime? 

I interrupted my daughter and told her what I had done. When we stopped laughing, she said, "Well, I guess you were listening to me after all." We finished and I sheepishly went back to the bank, walked up to one of the tellers and handed her the tube. She just smiled. I said, "My daughter called with an issue when I was in the drive through and I did not put this back. I am so sorry." She just laughed, "Honey, we all have those days. And, I bet she wouldn't let you get a word in edge wise either, would she?

Photography Post - Leafy Path

The edge of a trail on the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest last fall. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

20 Feet from Stardom, a Movie Review

This movie features Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Cheryl Crowe,  Stevie Wonder, and Bette Milder. But the stars of this movie are not these performers, it is the incredibly talented backup singers that have worked with them for years just twenty feet or so behind them on stage. And, most of them initially had a goal to make it from backup singer to headliner.

This story (or stories) is not one of failure, it is one of true talent that was recognized by their peers and those whose work would be so flat without their harmony. It is the story of the many black women who rose from singing in church with these incredible voices, truly gifts from God, to Los Angeles and Detroit in the late 60's trying to make it as a star only to be stopped just short of their goal. For instance the Crystals; Lala Brooks, Barbara Alston, and Darlene Love. You are probably familiar with their hit song, Then He Kissed Me. However, you've never heard of them because their names were buried and their talent used elsewhere. 

The film shows how producers like Phil Spector manipulated the industry by giving these women contracts, thereby having total control over their careers. He was able to use their voices to cover for acts he was producing who were not nearly as talented and keep them from competing with the legends he already had such as Areatha Franklin.

It shows so many of the women coming so close to stardom but just not being able to reach the top. And, some, you will recognize their voices and their songs, but may have never heard of them. The confirmation from the artists like Springsteen, Jagger, and others as to how unbelievably talented these ladies are and how vital they are to these stars' music is a testament to their value to the industry. Most of these music legends can remember the first time they heard these ladies voices. 

Most of the women are now in their 70's. Some have been able to find success and fulfillment late in life. Some are still singing backup and happy to have the work, while others still aspire for the top. And others, sadly, gave up and their talents are lost to most us. 

Darlene Love said that one day she was cleaning someone's house when her song, Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) came on the radio. She said she realized then she had no business cleaning houses, she needed to be singing. In 2012 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, as Bette Midler said when she introduced her at Love's induction, "And, it's about time."

The film is a glimpse into a world that has been before us all this time. Most of us have grown up with the music and we can sing the tunes from Ray Charles to the Stones. But, perhaps we never looked 20 feet behind to see the talent, the harmony, those incredible voices that were the background, the support to lead. After all when have you ever seen Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, or Ray Charles sing alone. And, the greatest groups from the 60's were those who sang in harmony. 

20 Feet From Stardom, just like the story itself, will not get wide release, which is a shame, but it deserves all the attention and support it can get. If you enjoy and appreciate music at all, I urge you to find a theater that is showing this film and invest the 91 minutes. It will open your eyes and next time you see a concert, your eyes will wonder past the star to the talent just behind him or her. And, you may realize, if only. . .

Photography Post- Old Stone Bridge

An old stone bridge crosses the creek that runs through the Pisgah Forest in North Carolina.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kon-Tiki, a Movie Review

In 1947 Thor Heyerdal, a Nowegian ethnographer* working in Polynesia, came up with the theory that the islands of Polynesia were not initially settled by Asians, as was the belief at the time, but by South Americans. He theorized that some peoples from South America boarded a balsa raft and by the ocean currents and the eastward winds made it across the Pacific Ocean, some 8000 kilometers (4300 miles). 

Now, if you look at a map, you would think he was off his rocker, which is what the National Geographic Society told him when he approached them about sponsoring the trip. Well, no spoiler here, he was able to get funding through loans and donations and he and five men left Peru on their balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki. The journey was no easy feat. At times there was doubt about the direction of the currents, there were sharks, and the desolation of the huge Pacific ocean. But in 101 days, they arrived in Polynesia proving his theory. 

Thor filmed the voyage and produced a documentary about trip that was released in 1950 and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1951. He also wrote a book on the voyage that was translated in 70 languages and sold more than 50 million copies. This 2012 film, Kon-Tiki, (with Pål Sverre Hagen playing the part of Heyerdal) is not a remake of the documentary but the story of how he arrived at his theory, trying to get support for the trip, and of course the trip itself. Original footage from the actual trip is peppered throughout the movie which is fascinating because it makes you realize how well the recreation is done.

As we sat in the theater, waiting for the movie to start, I turned to my DH and said, "If there is a tiger on this raft, I'm leaving." (in reference to the interminable miserable voyage in "Life of Pi") But this film kept my attention the entire time, I never tired of the voyage, never felt parts of the recreation were "hokey" or over done. The story is incredible and shows modern day exploration. It makes me want to find a copy of the 1950 documentary to watch.

*ethnography -The branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Missing Titles and Loose Weasels

In closing Mama's estate we needed to transfer title of her car. In order to do that, obviously we needed the title to said car. I felt sure I had it somewhere in the papers and files I was keeping on the estate. However, upon a thorough search I could not find it. Then I realized, in all we had been through, I did not remember ever seeing it. She always paid cash for her cars, so it had to be here some where. After an exhausting but thorough search of every thing I had, I could only reach one conclusion: she obviously kept her car title in the same secure location she kept her will - Super.

So, I needed to get a replacement title. I went to the South Carolina DMV web site. It did not take me long to find the instructions to order a replacement title and the form to download. They also offered the option of paying $15 extra to get it "Expedited" so you could get it in 3-5 days. Sign me up.

To make sure that I had read everything correctly, that I had all the documentation they needed, and I knew what part of the forms I was required to complete, I called the DMV Customer Hotline for assistance. Naturally, the form 400 they have for this service is also for persons wanting to obtain new titles for new and leased vehicles, transfer titles, request or transfer titles for house trailers, as well as request duplicate titles for those lost. 

A very friendly Michelle answered. I started with as many questions as I could think of. She told me which part of the form to complete, what documents I needed to attach, and confirmed the address to which I needed to mail it. I inquired about the fee to expedite if and she said that that fee would get the form completed faster, in as few as 3-5 days. When I asked what the normal turn around time was, she replied 21-25 days.

So I carefully completed the form and signed it, attached the documents and the check and sent it off - to the correct address. Ten days later I had heard nothing. I called the DMV again and explained my situation. The Help Desk lady looked it up - the file showed nothing. Then she asked, "Did you Fedex it in?" "No, was I supposed to?" "Well if you wanted it expedited." "The directions did not say that anywhere, nor did the DMV person I spoke with mention that." "Did you write 'please expedite' on the outside of the envelope?" ""No, the directions did not say that anywhere, nor did the DMV person I spoke with mention that." 

"Well then it would have gone in with the regular requests." "So what does my $15 buy me?" "When they get it, they will mail it out first." "And how long will that take?" "Usually it takes them 21 days to get to an application and 1 or 2 days to process it." "So then what?" "You will get it in 3-5 days after that." 

In government speak, I assume this means that my Title will go on the top of the mail pile. I can see it now when the hundreds of envelopes containing titles are sent to the mail room. "Vern, remember now, those envelopes with that green mark go in the box first." "Why?" "They're special. They're being expedited."

When I hung up the phone I decided that if that was what needed to be done, so be it. So I completed another form, attached the correct documents, sent another check, and Fedexed the whole deal. I figured that the second one should get there and be processed before the first one was even opened. God help us all. Of course, my luck is they will get both applications at the same time - there will be some minor discrepancy between the two and they will decline both of them.

All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. . . 

Photography Post - Little Friend Visits Yellow Flower

  1. A beetle comes to visit.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Parties of My Youth

My friends loved my Daddy. Early on (as in starting when I was 5) he would throw these great parties for me. Some were for my birthday, like the wonderful surprise birthday party he threw for my 15th birthday, thinking the tradition was "Sweet 15". Then when some one corrected him that it was "16" not "15", he threw the same party the next year "to make sure he got it right". Needless to say, I was very surprised the second time. But, I digress.

There were others. One year, he decided to give a Halloween party for my friends. He staged the affair in our basement. He had a cauldron of dry ice, spooky noises, friends of his dressed up as witches and ghosts. He went all out.

When I was a teenager, he suggested one fall that I have a hay ride. So I invited about 25-30 of my friends. Daddy had one of his buddies who was a local farmer bring one of his big trucks full of hay over to the house. We had all gathered there early in the evening. Everyone loaded up. It was a great night for a hay ride with chilly weather, clear skies, and the moon was full.

While we were having a grand time in the back, Dad and his friend were having a "Large" time in the cab. After we had driven through the country for a while, the truck stopped. Daddy got out and yelled, "Y'all want to go through town?" Of course, everyone yelled, "Yes." And, we were off on our way to main street. We had just passed the town square when we heard sirens. Thanks to the three foot side walls around the truck, we couldn't really see what was going on, which at this point was probably for the best.

It was the police and when the officer approached the cab of the truck and said something to Dad's friend who was driving the truck, Dad's friend suddenly got very belligerent toward the officer. We were all just sitting very quietly in the hay, hoping the police would not even know we existed. The two exchanged heated words for a minute or two. Finally Dad's friend just said, "Officer, all I'm doing is taking these young folks on a hayride." "A hayride? You cannot do that in the city. We have an ordinance against that." "Well officer, I did not know that." "Who is in charge of this any way?"

Oh God, I thought, they are going to arrest my Daddy right here. What am I going to do? About that time, Dad's friend yelled out my name, "She's the one in charge. If anyone is at fault, it is her." "And, just where can I find this young lady?" He indicated I was in the back of the truck. The officer called my name and told me to show myself. After seeing my life flash before my eyes and hearing murmurs then snickers from my friends, I stood up. The officer shined his flash light in my face. "Young lady, I understand you and your friends are cavorting around town in this vehicle."

I stuttered a "Yes sir." He just smiled and said, "Well, y'all just be careful and have a great time." Then he turned to my Dad's friend and said, "OK, y'all carry on now." The officer went on his way and we settled back down in the hay and made our way back to my house. When we got there, the truck stopped. Dad got out and told us to sit tight. About that time we heard a motor start and the back of the truck started to tip. Before we knew it, we were dumped, hay and all onto our lawn. Later on, while everyone enjoyed the hot chocolate and goodies Mama and I had baked for the party, I was picked on me unmercifully about our run in with the city police. 

Later on Daddy confessed that he had called the police and asked if they would "participate" in part of the evening's fun. They were more than happy to do so - at my expense. Daddy looked at me and said, "Well, I promised I'd do better next time." "Well yeah, but you still embarrassed me in front of my friends." "But, the head master wasn't involved this time." "Oh. no. Now you've stepped it up a notch and involved the police."

Photography Post - Purple Flower

A bright flower in the morning dew on a hillside at Pisgah.