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My call just now to Allied waste Services.

So I get my trash/recycling bill. I just called and left the following message:

"Hello, my name is Amy and my account number is XXX. I received my bill the other day, and there must be a mistake. You did not credit my account for the week in December that you did not provide your service.

Given that you nickel and dime the shit out of your customers, such as charging an extra fee if the trash or recycling bin lid is even so much as raised by 3 inches, I have no intention of paying for a week of service that you did not provide. If there is any problem with this request, please call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx between the hours of 8a and 10p."


Remembering Aunt Ellen

When I was a child, we'd travel now and then to an old iron town on the Ohio river. Not-so-creatively named Ironton, it was full of neighborhoods with amazing Second Empire and Queen Anne architecture. Back in the 70's and 80's, many lay in waste, and their decaying radiance no doubt lay at the foundation of my fascination with both architecture and the macabre beauty of its decay.

The reason for our trips were visits to my Aunt Ellen (my mother's father's brother's wife; I don't remember my Uncle Ray, I believe he passed before I was born). She was a fantastic, traditional hostess; she would sleep in the spare bedroom with me, for my parents got her master bedroom. I remember her as a fairly "formal" lady compared to others in our family; I remember fairly strict routines, slippers, robes, never going anywhere without her makeup. She had a gentle demeanor, which made it all the more hilarious when she was bawdy or excited.

She cooked wonderful meals for us, and those visits are among some of my fondest childhood memories. I adored her house, with it's old charm and style so different from what I was used to. We lived in a rural area, she lived where there were sidewalks to roam and blocks to traverse.

About the only part of her that remains with me, aside from the memories, is a recipe for a spaghetti sauce that is so easy it's ridiculous, and so odd that no one I've ever mentioned it to doesn't laugh. But Scot and I love love love it, and we enjoyed it tonight on top of some very al dente campanelle and thick fluffy slices of garlic bread made from the leftovers of a home-made loaf of bread I made this weekend.

Great way to start the weekend. Not much relaxing to do, as there's an oodle of freelance work to do, and prep for Mom's visit.
Couldn't resist the reviews and caught Slumdog Millionaire at Salem Cinema this weekend with Leah. A beautiful film, powerful and startling for its imagery and it's contrasts of poverty and wealth. All in all a good story, too; the type of timeline mash-up they use often doesn't sit well with me, but it was a perfect track for this story.

I had heard the occasional news story about the level of poverty in the mega slums of the world, and this movie caused me to do a little research and learn a bit more. That's a powerful thing to say, that a movie urged one to learn more.

There was something amazing about seeing children laugh amidst such poverty. While it is a movie, I'm sure that happens naturally, as well, reminding us that some of the most important things in life (love and laughter, in my view) shine through whatever hardship arises.

One of the previews was for Waltz with Bashir. My reaction was interesting, telling more about the film's purpose than perhaps anything else. Why use animation as the vehicle for a documentary, especially one about war and death? What is gained? Especially animation techniques that depend upon live action origins. To me, the methods are more distracting and detracting than enhancing; I find humanity is lost in the telling, and the mind constantly distracted from the story by the delivery method.

Just the trailer made me uncomfortable enough that I think I need to see the movie, though. Maybe I'll feel differently by the end.

And overall, support Salem Cinema. I know a lot of people who don't go. True, their offerings are not mainstream -- that's the whole point. But there are non-mainstream movies which have great appeal, so if you don't go to Salem Cinema, keep an eye out to what is playing and make a point to go if they do carry something you are interested in. Sign up for their mailing list to get a weekly mailing with what's playing.

Support local business, especially those that value the arts. A life without them would be rife with poverty, indeed.

Odd houseplant tip for clean, shiny leaves.

PlantCentered on our coffee table is a gorgeous plant with reddish green leaves the size of dinner plates. We picked it up at Winco for $3.49 just shy of a year ago. My guess is it is a Philodendron erubescens or 'Imperial Red'. Large leaves in our household equal dust-catchers, so we are often "washing" the plant. The "leaf shine" products I see in stores are pore clogging no-nos, I know, but I wanted to bring the best sheen to the leaves as possible.

A quick Google uncovered a strange suggest: wipe the leaves with a 1:1 mixture of water and milk. MILK. I gave it a try and...

Tada: beautiful, shiny leaves.


Merry Xmas from Comcast.

The cablemodem service here at the home headquarters was always a bit anemic. It did the job. I've been seeing the ads, and throwing away the flyers, that talked about an upcoming speed increase. This morning, we had no service. But then when it came back up...

The music I downloaded was here in an instant. I ran a speed test, and sure enough... I'm seeing three times the speeds I had before.


Deep Freeze: Day 12

It's over 32 today, so the snow is melting. We've lost about 2 inches or so. Now there will be much talk about managing the run-off. It is strange being outside; the trees are melting, and it sounds like a raucous rain, but you stand there untouched. Everything else is emitting precipitation, however.

The storm that was supposed to drop more snow on us last night/this morning has not materialized.

We had planned to go to Vancouver, BC with some friends. But we bowed out Sunday night. We were to leave Tuesday evening (evening because they work nights and would be up and ready around 6pm). Our friends decided to go, still. I asked them to call/text when they got there. As of 9am this morning, they had not yet arrived. It took them four hours to get to the OR/WA border on I-5. That's usually an hour trip.

We are happy to be home on the couch with the dogs. We're doing... nothing.

And it feels so good.

Advertising. Gotta love it.

So I'm trying to do something productive, when something bright and shiny catches my eye and before I know it, I'm over on AdFreak. I'm thoroughly enjoying the candidates for the Freakiest Ad of 2008 when I come upon this one, by the Danish Cancer Society.

Talk about making an impact. Even *I* forgot what it was supposed to be about until the end.

Okay, now it is appropriate.

So this past week I've been baggin' on PNW weathermen and news outlets. So now I will hand it to them: this is winter weather worth reporting about. Yesterday morning we woke to 4-5 inches of snow covered in 1/4-1/2 inch of ice. That was fun!

This morning it was huge, fuffly tufts of snow coming down hard, hard enough to make visibility bad. "Let's go get in the hot tub and watch it snow!" was what roused me out of bed, after I'd called the emergency hotline at work to hear that PDX was closed, and the local office was opening at 10am, but check back at 9a for a final decision...


These photos are from yesterday morning.

Okay, I cry, "Uncle!"

Today we have weather that should cause great concern. There is 1/4-1/2 inch of ice over everything. What was dry show and slushy roads last night froze, and was topped with a nice cap of ice.

Now that's something to be cautious of.

Close everything down!

Originally uploaded by lavachickie
By yesterday morning we had, at most, 2 inches of snow. Of course, that is enough to completely shut down the Willamette Valley because, I swear, there is ONE snow plow/sand spreader combo for an entire tri-county area.

The good news is we don't get snow in the valley much. The bad news is when we do -- no one knows what to do with it, and there are few municipal resources available.

The result is a nice slick ice rink over most roads, like the one I am peering at here through my lens from my front step.

Over 24 hours after the snow had fallen there was NO sand and NO gravel on Market Street, a rather main road.

We gingerly set out for breakfast at Broadway Cafe, a treat after a weekend of working at home. People were either driving 5 MPH or buzzing along at 40 MPH like there was nothing different. While there WERE many cars off on the side of the road (or on sidewalks) given the lack of attention most people paid, it was surprising there were not more accidents.