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Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Time Event
Packing it up
My mother was a pack rat and often said we'd hate her after she was gone when we had to go through all her things. We don't hate her, but she sure did have a lot of things (e.g., a drawer filled with feminine supplies that she hadn't needed since the '70s). My sister and I agreed we'd rather take it slowly than try to pack up the apartment all at once. This meant continuing to pay maintenance and other fees on her condo (we did disconnect the phone), but the expense is negligible compared to what her care would have cost had she lived. I've gone to Florida several times, and after another trip last week the end is in sight.

We found many coins, wrapped and unwrapped, and brought them to a nearby bank with a Penny Arcade machine. We had to unwrap them all for the machine, and spent quite a while dumping coins in the tray. The total came to over $154 (!) (including over 6000 pennies), split between my sister and me - the Mommy ATM!
The Mommy ATM continued when we found cash in the underwear drawer and in a locked metal box we correctly guessed the combination to (my father's favorite numbers). After the stroke, Mommy's purse went missing. I contacted EMT, the hospital, and her building staff and no one found it or remembered seeing it. Months later, we found it in an obscure corner of a closet with everything intact (we had figured it was lost rather than stolen, since there were no suspicious credit card charges), including some cash. Mommy ATM! Maybe the EMTs stashed it there, since she usually kept it in plainer sight. Hoping for more hidden treasure, we shook out all the books and looked in every nook and cranny, but found nothing further.

A box of books shipped Media Mail just arrived. I'd previously sent some items via UPS (the UPS Store can be expensive, but it's convenient and had no lines) and as checked baggage. This trip I filled and checked a large, wheeled TravelPro suitcase. It came to 60 pounds, and I didn't know the limit was 50. The guy said there would be a $100 charge unless I could lighten it, so I frantically took out "Ripstein: The Game" (custom-made board game) and some framed diplomas to get it to 50. Now, though, I had to fit the removed items in my carry-on duffel bag which already had my laptop and was very heavy.

Lugging the duffel onto the plane (with my other bag, a tote with reading material and pocketbook inside to keep the carry-ons at 2), I was happy to see one remaining space in the overhead bin across from my seat but could not hoist the bag. A good samaritan intervened, and also had to take it down when we landed. Our flight was supposed to use baggage claim B (according to both the announcement and electronic board), which took quite a while to start. I noticed people at claim C, and went over there but saw tags with a different flight number. After B had gone around several times without my suitcase, I again went to C (now deserted) and saw my bag. Oh well, at least I found it.

My credit card has a "blink" feature which failed to work last week at a Duane Reade (it did swipe) and in the cab from the Fort Lauderdale airport to my mother's place (it did work on the cab from home to LaGuardia). The Florida driver tried typing the number in manually and it still didn't work, so I paid cash. I immediately called the bank, who said they saw the attempted charge (which did not go through), and the driver's machine must have been faulty and he probably typed the number wrong. I was skeptical (was the Duane Reade machine also broken?) and hoped the final cab from LaGuardia back to home would accept the card. Thankfully, it did. Jiggety Jig.
Gradually moving the books off the table near the window
My building got new windows 20 years ago, but these have proved unsatisfactory. It's drafty in cold weather, and people have reported water leaks. One of my windows had a part peel off last year, and it broke again after being fixed. The guy came once more and used some sort of super-glue. I was supposed to leave it alone for a few days but was so scared it would break that I haven't touched it all year.

This problem is moot since they're replacing all the windows. This has been going on since July, and mine are scheduled in about a month. I remember no inconvenience the last time, but this time we're asked to move things away from the window area, and cover everything else. There's a long memo detailing what we have to do; it's a total pain. I'm dreading it (not to mention that I'll be without window coverings for several days and might have to live my life in the bathroom since I'm on a low floor and the other rooms can be seen from outside), and have started moving things off the couch under the window which I'll have to turn on its side against the wall since there's nowhere to move it. Miles to go...

The computer is near the window, and I'm not sure if just covering it is enough, or I'll have to move it (running the risk of not being able to hook it up again). Next to the computer under the window is a table piled with books I've read that need to be blogged. So I need to get caught up on blogging (though I guess I could put the books elsewhere). I like to group them in some way, and this entry's theme will be: disappointing books from authors I've previously enjoyed.

"Guilty Pleasures" by Lawrence Sanders - I've liked many of Sanders' mysteries but this book about a rich, decadent Florida family had no mystery and little action. An incest subplot was particularly icky.

"Queenan Country" by Joe Queenan - Joe Queenan is a very funny guy and I especially like his writings on movies. This British travelogue left me cold, possibly because I'm not that interested in England. After the lead-off story of a Liverpool cabdriver who claimed intimate knowledge of the Beatles, I lost interest and gave up after 56 pages.

"The Man of my Dreams" by Curtis Sittenfeld - I loved the author's "Prep" so much I got it in hardcover after reading the paperback. This will be traded away. I wasn't enthralled with protagonist Hannah's coming of age tale, which seemed to go on and on in its angst.

"Don't Make a Scene" by Valerie Block - I loved the author's "None of Your Business" so much that I got another copy after lending mine out. This one, not so much. Diane programs a Village revival house cinema and has apartment problems and man problems. One relationship was especially distasteful.

"Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger - I liked "The Devil Wears Prada" but this was just eh. The heroines are fabulous and gorgeous, but I kept getting these 3 BFFs confused with characters in another book I was reading simultaneously.

"Some Nerve" by Jane Heller - The coincidence that dominates this story is ridiculous. It's revealed in the book jacket, but I won't spoil. A celebrity journalist in LA loses a big story and is banished back home to Middletown, where (gasp)... no, I won't spoil it. Didn't buy a word of it.

"Queen Takes King" by Gigi Levangie Grazer - Some of Grazer's books are better than others, and this is one of the others. Power couple (literally named Power) starts divorce proceedings when husband Jacks' (short for Jackson) affair with a hot newscaster is exposed. Some of the ensuing events are just icky.

"Certain Girls" by Jennifer Weiner - This eagerly awaited sequel to "Good in Bed" was a bit disappointing, though I'll keep it in my collection. Daughter Joy, born at the end of the first book, is now approaching her bat mitzvah and is one of the more annoying tweens on the planet. A wrenching plot twist near the end added to my discomfort. Still, I'll read anything Jennifer Weiner writes.

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