Broken Crocus

Spring Crocus in bloom
Broken under careless foot
Beautiful still

Friday, September 20, 2013

What'll they think of next??

Is it possible I’m getting old? I’m in that "what will they think of next?" mode a lot lately.

I mean, I remember actually having to get up to change the channel on the television. Heck, I learned to type on a big, heavy manual typewriter. Remember those? Of course, I still have to get up to turn on the lights, and remember to turn them off before bed.  There's something comforting about this.  I think.

The TV? These days, I don’t really get to have much say over what’s on. Even if I was to actually get up and hit some buttons on the receiver, it wouldn’t help. See, my husband is a remote hog. Oh yes, he just must have that thing in his hands, even during a program we’re watching. I think it’s the only time he ever thinks ahead, clicking to see what’s coming on later, even as a program we’re watching is playing. And if he loses track of the remote it’s blind panic as he searches for it under pillows, couch cushions, etc. He MUST have that remote in his hands.

Sometimes my daughter borrows our remote, like when hers is under her bed and she doesn’t want to get down on all fours to get it. When she returns it, she usually gives it to me, with a suspicious glance at her father, the remote hog. I’ll set it on the arm of my chair and turn my attention back to the TV. You know, I don’t have a clue how he does it, but when I check on that remote it’s always gone. I never even see him move from the couch, but there’s that remote in his hand again. It’s as if it’s attached to a fishing line and all he has to do is reel it in.

So imagine discovering, to my horror, that "they’ve" come up with a newfangled kind of electric switch, an automatic switch for lights, doorbells, etc., that even has a smart phone application. Hmmmm... wait, come to think of it, I don’t really know if this is going to be a new toy for hubby to play with, or if it’ll actually reduce his kingly power over the household. I mean, it’s automatic, turning on lights when it gets dark, turning them off when it gets light. It just might confuse him!!

Tsk, what will they think of next? Anyway, this is a heads up of what’s coming, ladies. Check it out!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Caveat Emptor

I wish I could say that customer service has come a long way. Alas, it has not.

Oh, but I’m not going to paint everyone with the same wide brush, though I think we all know that this is a concept lost on a lot of corporate types who seem to think they’re God’s gift to the world and the customer is someone to be endured, rather than courted. 

One company that still hasn’t succumbed to this bizarre mind-set is CROCKPOT ~ The Original Slow Cooker. I wrote to them when the knob on my Crockpot broke. It’s well-used, but it still works, so I was just wanting a new knob to fix it and asked if I could order one from them. 

I guess they didn’t have the part, because they wrote back and offered me a whole new crockpot.... no charge. Whoa! After years of experiencing deteriorating corporate attitudes, I was really very pleasantly surprised by this. They kept me notified of how and when it was coming and it arrived quickly and in good order. That was cool! I fixed the old one with a makeshift part and still use it, but having the new one in the wings is a good thing. Consumer relations live!

A couple of months later, summer arrived and I got out the canopy for the front yard shelter. I put it on the metal frame.  It wasn’t in such good shape. It was pretty much down to the consistency of a dirty hanky, due mostly to UV exposure. It was tearing of its own accord. It’s a Woods shelter, so after checking in a few stores that carry such things (and not finding a replacement), I wrote to Woods to ask if I could get a new canopy from them. They kindly sent me back a copy of my request, so I know they got it, but they didn’t bother to answer me. Is that a no? Heh... I guess so. Not impressed. I made do with what we had on hand. There’s nothing wrong with the metal frame, so I’m not buying a new shelter just because the canopy is shot. And when the time comes to buy a new shelter, I will avoid the Woods brand, of course. In fact, I’ll avoid it for all and any outdoor products. And now I’m thinking in terms of something more permanent for a shelter anyway, so I don’t have to invest in any of those very temporary ones again. So maybe they did me a favour, eh?

A couple of weeks ago, I made up a nice batch (or what was intended to be a nice batch) of lemon/dill hummus. I appreciate that there are a lot of people who can’t relate, because there are a lot of people who don’t like hummus. In fact, I don’t like the store-bought stuff myself. It’s a lot like dipping food into toothpaste. But I make my own. I like it creamy and garlicky and so I make it that way. My daughter was hesitant about hummus for a long time, but curious, she finally dipped a chip into it and discovered that it’s not all that bad. She tried it with different things at regular intervals and over time she got so she quite liked a snack of something dippable with hummus. She even had me change brands from the PC Organic Chick Peas I like to make it with, to Yves Garbanzo Beans. Chick peas and garbanzo beans are the same thing of course... one of those things with two names. Anyway, she wanted the change because the PC product comes in a can with a plastic liner and she was concerned about BPA exposure. The Yves Garbanzos have no plastic lining in the can. So, even though they’re more expensive, I was giving them a try.

So there she was one evening, enjoying some chips with lemon/dill hummus for a snack, when suddenly she made an odd sound and yelled "eeeewwww... what’s in my hummus!!??" She spat something out and I went to see. She thought it was a piece of chicken, and it did indeed look like a piece of chicken white meat. She was aghast and since she’s vegan, also quite horrified. She wound up barfing up her snack.
Longer story shorter, I kept the piece of material she spat out, the rest of that hummus, the tin and I also gave the Canadian Food Inspection Agency another tin of garbanzo beans with the same expiry date and lot number. They got back to me after a while and said it wasn’t chicken, but it was a fibrous material, like wood or something that was apparently in that can of chick peas. (They couldn’t identify it for sure.)

I’m not sure if this is supposed to make it ok or not, but I don’t happen to think that finding any foreign matter in your mouth from a canned food product is ok. I told Yves Veggie Cuisine about it. They evidently passed the matter on to the PR department of the Canadian distributor, Hain-Celestial Foods, who contacted me via email and asked me to phone them. I did so, using the 1-800 number, which was the second number she offered. (Do they really prefer customers to call long distance at their own expense???) Anyway, I spoke with a woman who was not apologetic, but really rather indignant and haughty about the whole thing. It seems to me that under the circumstances, the indignation should be mine, shouldn’t it? When I suggested there should be no foreign material of any kind in a can of garbanzo beans, she vacillated between claiming that the company keeps the highest health standards known to man, and then excusing the matter because the garbanzo beans were actually canned in the States. Huh?  Isn’t this trying to have it both ways?

She offered to send me coupons. I guess this is the standard thing, but I told her we wouldn’t be eating their garbanzo beans again any time soon, and I started to tell her why other products might not be suitable. I mean, Yves makes many vegetarian products, but a lot of them contain gluten and both my daughter and I are gluten-free. Thing is, this woman kept interrupting me and I never got that out. Then she told me a bit later that I had refused to give her my address.

"When did I do this?" I asked, perplexed. I had not refused her this information at all, of course, she just hadn’t let me finish what I was saying. She was too busy condescendingly telling me how great they all are... or how American.   Feh.  I gave her my address. Again, unlikely I can use anything she sends (and I won’t believe she’s sending anything till it gets here). Do I give it to another unsuspecting consumer if she does? I’m not sure that would be right.   Coupon kindling?

I wrote to Yves again, but they’re not talking. Apparently this is their consumer relations policy. Dump the upset consumer on someone who apparently graduated from the Godzilla PR program of some misguided college, and ignore the whole thing. You know, I would have dared hope for better, even for some useful compensation, maybe something in the way of a gift card from a major grocery store chain or something, since we can’t really use their products. But that clearly isn’t their style. Apparently they have no style... at all. So hey, just a heads-up people, if you’re trying those veggie foods and you find something strange lodged in your food, or in your mouth, and it has a lasting negative impact on you and/or your family, don’t expect Yves Veggie Cuisine to give a flying rat’s ass about it.  Just sayin’.   It’s back to PC Organic chick peas for me... plastic liner notwithstanding. My daughter won’t be eating hummus or anything with chick peas in it any time soon. *sigh*

I’ll still enjoy it, just so it isn’t Yves garbanzo beans. In fact, by this time next year, I hope I’ll be enjoying my veggies and hummus in the shade of a nice gazebo in the front yard, while my new Crockpot makes veggie broth on the back of the stove in the house. Caveat Emptor, people... Caveat Emptor.


See also:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yeah, always more to say...

So, in fact, I will add to this blog right now. 

Have you seen the ads dissing young Trudeau, the new leader of the Liberal party?
It was ridiculous enough that Harper's personal attacks on Ignatieff took root.  I mean, ok, Ignatieff was an egghead, but the bullying Harper indulged in was disgusting.  Even more disgusting is that it apparently worked.

Now he's launched an all out personal offensive against Justin Trudeau.  I think he may have overstepped this time though.  Trudeau is popular, especially amongst the young.  And the pictures Harper's nasty little team of bullies chose to use were of him stripping down to his undershirt  (oh, woohoo) for a charitable cause.  A little bit of fun for charity, and Harper thinks he can make that look bad.  I mean, maybe he can.  That depends on Canadians.

The next attack came after the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon.  In an interview, Trudeau said he thought we should get at the root cause of this violence.  Harper saw this as an opportunity to politicize the tragedy by criticizing Trudeau's thinking, saying that such attacks should simply be condemned.

Ok yeah... that's been working. {/sarcasm}

Terrorism: condemnation, terrorism: condemnation, terrorism: condemnation.  Does anyone else see a repetitive trend here?  Trudeau is right... we need to find out how these young people are being turned to terrorism and we need to put a stop to it.

Some would-be terrorists were stopped here in Canada shortly after by virtue of a tip from the Muslim community about some young people who seemed to be involved in terror activities.  Tragedy averted.  It's more coooperation, detective work, and preemptive strikes like this that needs to repeated, instead of just more terror. And more condemnation.

We need to know what's happening to these young people, how the terrorists are getting at them and convincing them to participate.  We DO need to look at the root causes of these attacks. Condemnation is NOT enough.

Ah, but Harper doesn't care.  To him, it's just an opportunity to bully an opponent.  I don't understand how this guy got a majority government, but I sure hope Canadians don't fall for his BS again.  And this time, I hope the young people get out and VOTE.  When the time comes, do not miss the opportunity.

 Let your voice be heard!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What a Rough Time to be Christian!

I really just want to salute you genuine Christians, you know who you are. For the rest of you, I'm talking about those caring Christians who actually believe in love, humility and the compassion for others that Jesus taught.

It must be a tough time to be a real Christian, when your faith has pretty much been hi-jacked by some bat-shit crazy, homophobic, misogynistic, right wing zealots who apparently think that Christianity is all about hate and intolerance. Oy.

I'm not big on religion in general. Following only one of the great masters who came among us to guide us tends to lead to conflict. I'm a spiritualist who tries to learn something from them all, so I don't label myself. Still, I am a student of the lessons of Jesus, and what some of these zealots are preaching in his name is shameful ... to the point of obscenity.

So, to those of you who follow the genuine lessons of Jesus, hang in there. Hopefully this darkness too shall pass.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

People can be such idiots.

What brings me to this unhappy conclusion? Well, I’ll tell ya. It has a lot to do with those old poops who advised me to beat my child when she had a public meltdown. No, she wasn’t just spoiled. She is a child of autism and has emotional and social disabilities. Tell me though, who do you think is really more socially inept? Those with social disabilities, or those who can’t accept these people with humility, imagination, and grace? I know the answer, but I won’t spoil it for ya.

Then there’s the store clerk who said, “I don’t believe in ‘syndromes.’” Well yeah, it’s always easy to have an opinion at a safe distance from the problem. But I have to live with the reality 24/7, so I have to be more responsible than that.

Then there’s those who think celiac disease is some sort of current fashion. Some sort of "band wagon." Ok, maybe there are those few who’ve gone on a gluten-free diet as if it’s the next greatest fad diet to try. But celiac disease is no fashion. It’s a medically tested auto-immune disease. It hurts. It causes pain, bloating, gall bladder disease, fatty liver, depression and more. Is all this terribly “fashionable” to some people?

Is cancer just a “fashion?” Is pneumonia just a hot fashion now that antibiotics have lost some of their power? Is diabetes just a rollicking modern fashion too?

Once again, it’s always so easy to have an opinion at a safe distance from the reality. But as much as I hate to confuse people whose minds are already made up with pesky facts: there is no day off from autism, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome. There is no day off from celiac disease, or even just gluten intolerance. There is no day off from Colitis. There is no day off from Diabetes, even for those who are just pre-D and in prevention mode. Just as there’s no day off from many health issues, from any auto-immune disorders or diseases, such as PANDAS and more, to cancers, to mental disorders, such as depression or bi-polar disorder, that make every day a challenge, and some days a living hell.

These health issues are not games. They aren't something people drum up just to be “difficult.” They aren’t a joke for someone else’s entertainment. They aren’t about effing “FASHION” or playful BAND WAGONS... they are about living day to day with any and ALL the life-altering challenges that reality will throw at us. If you don’t get it, then you don’t. Lucky you. Just be aware that you damage your own credibility when you belittle the challenges that others face on a daily basis ~ especially those who face several of these challenges all at once.

You think they aren’t real? Well, with all the respect you’re due, you’re an idiot.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The poster, let's call him John S., wrote that he was retired from the armed services and regretted never having learned to dance. He would have liked to learn, he said. He said no more, just leaving that out there.

Another poster saw John's post. Let's call him Tanglefoot. Now Tanglefoot had been injured in an accident and he took dance lessons as part of his recovery therapy. It was something he'd always wanted to do as well, so he thought he'd be a sport and tell John all about it.

"I took lessons at a dance studio," wrote Tanglefoot. "The instructors were great ~ very patient ~ and I actually got very good at it, despite my disability. I don't dance to rock though, and I'm glad disco is dead, but I love being able to squire my lady around the dance floor to the slow tunes." He went to the trouble of including an URL to a national dance studio to help John out if he wanted to look into it.

But John came back with a little tidbit of information that he'd left out of his original post. "I lost my legs in Iraq," he said. "I don't much wear the prosthetics because they pinch, so I don't think I'll be dancing any time soon."

Tanglefoot was shocked, of course. But he was also angry. He felt used ~ taken advantage of by someone whose original post was not genuine... someone who just wanted sympathy and attention. Indeed, he felt bad for the guy, losing both legs, but he didn't like being misled, and sucked into the other man's self-pity.
Something stinks, Petunia

Tanglefoot himself was an amputee, having lost his foot in a winter climbing accident. But dancing had been the therapy he needed to gain the balance, physical strength and confidence he needed to manage now with the prosthetic foot. But while he was straight up about his disability, he didn't mention details because life isn't a contest and he didn't like to reduce it to one. He just didn't talk to John again.

Compassion? That cuts both ways, or at least it should. When someone presumes they are somehow more deserving of it and wastes someone else's time and effort in a pointless exercise, just to get pity and attention, they risk being denied the very thing they seek.

Yes, people like this have my pity, but not my respect. Perhaps that's partly because I know a great many people, mothers mostly, who face spirit-crushing challenges day in and day out with their kids, who aren't well, and who aren't always getting the medical care they need because of a backward medical community. These moms struggle to inform themselves through what is often a minefield of misinformation, and they take on the status quo and fight for their kids with amazing strength and determination. And they often do so without the support of loved ones... those very people they should be able to count on to stand with them. Then they turn around and help others who are tackling the same minefield, and they do so with love, compassion and grace. These are the people I admire and respect and for whom I have empathy and compassion.

But then there are the others.... I understand how Tanglefoot felt after his encounter with John S. People who are frightened and lonely will always have my sympathy. But I've made the same mistake as Tanglefoot a few times. It's made me hesitant to take people at face value. No challenge gives one person the right to "play" another and I intend to be more circumspect in future. I don't want to be sucked in by those lost in self-pity who think it's ok to misrepresent their situation as if the rest of us have nothing better to do than give them our attention whenever they want it.

Yeah, really.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Market, and the Unseeing People

I've mentioned the market before.... in a previous post. I think community markets are great. You can get all kinds of foods, as well as locally made arts and crafts. These markets are all about locally grown, often organically or naturally grown meats, vegetables, fruits and more. And local artisans offer up unique items of hand-made beauty, as opposed to those department store things made in some off-shore sweat shop or assembly line.

This colourful hanging thing is made of origami birds!

There are always people who understand this and who shop the market all season long, enjoying the varied fruits of the season. But in the past several weeks of "doing" the market in my local community, I've noticed that there are also a lot of lost people who apparently don't see what is around them.

I don't know why these people come to the market. They walk through quickly, not looking left or right at the goods available. It's ok if they don't want to buy, but why would they not open their eyes and take a little look? Pass the time of day with the vendors or with others who've been attracted to the site? But these people seem quite blind to what is going on all around them. They navigate the wandering crowds, the little knobs of people standing chatting.

They aren't even annoyed by the obstacles. They just duck and weave around them and keep walking. They could always just walk through the parking lot, a stone's throw away, if they're just out for a brisk walk, instead of wending their way through the crowds of shoppers, huggers and chatters. There are few obstacles in the parking lot. Just some parked cars. No people, dogs, kids or other moving obstacles to slow them down. And yet.... there they are, seemingly unaware of where they are, what they're doing there, the goods or the humanity around them. Even if they don't see, you'd think they'd notice the smells...
the hot pies, the potato burgers, the herbs! And the garlic! My goodness... the garlic!!

Who are these people? Why are they walking blind? What is their stress that they get up, get dressed and come out to market, yet notice nothing?

Oh well, there's nothing I can do about it. I take joy in talking to all who stop by my table. If they buy, great. If they want to chat, that's cool too. It's all good. And I get to spend my morning enjoying the smells, doing a little shopping of my own, and gabbing with folks. I just can't help wondering about those willfully blind people who weave through the crowds unseeing. Unaware. All I can do is encourage you, the reader, to go out to your community market, and look, see, smell, chat and enjoy. Whatever your stress is, enjoying what is around you is what will help relieve it.