Customer Disservice

I owe some blogs, certainly, but this one couldn’t wait. I bought appliances in October, I bought them from Warners’ Stellian, a locally owned/family owned appliance store and people I know have happily bought appliances from them. My story is a trainwreck. And unfortunately I didn’t look at reviews until afterward, but my story is not uncommon.

I’m going to post the full text of the email complaint I sent in yesterday, it explains it better and then you’ll know the whole story. Stay tuned at the end for the results.

Okay, so I don’t feel like I was irrational or even asking for the moon. They screwed up, royally and repeatedly and at MY cost. It was a disaster from the get go. I think my point that they should have given me my money back and been done with it is valid. Instead, after a full business day of waiting, they lowballed me.

They offered me the exact cost of the contractor’s estimate, which did not include the cost of paint and said so right on the invoice, which was $250, plus the cost of groceries, if I sent them an itemized list.

That pissed me off, too. I am the wronged party here, ME, and they have the nerve to lowball me and then ask me to itemize my costs? Um, no. That’s what the email was, and itemized list of grievances, and I gave you my cost, you ignored it. But, I also am so sick of dealing with this mess. It has been consuming my life for a month. I want to be done. So I responded and told him I would settle for $400, but made it clear that they were in the wrong and that they didn’t even apologize.

Okay, they sent me a form letter apology. That doesn’t count. Not in my book. It wasn’t even personalized. “Dear customer we strive for the best and are sorry that your situation….blahblahblah” is not an apology.  I think at the very least the asshole lowballing could have offered up a sincere apology. But no.

I want this out there, not to complain or vent, but to tell anyone who is in Minnesota to simply not use them. Their customer service is atrocious. And from what I have seen, they simply do not care.

DO NOT BUY FROM WARNERS’ STELLIAN.

Reading in the Rain

I know I’ve talked ad nauseum about how much I love to read outside. I LOVE it, it’s just the best thing in the world. I’m honestly surprised I don’t go into depression when I can’t for nine months out of the year.

At my house, I have a three season porch off my living room, which is on the second floor, that means my patio has a roof, the floor of the porch. I have my swing  hanging from the porch and that’s where I spend 99.99% of my outdoor reading time (once it was too sunny and I sat on the bench for 15 minutes, that’s the other 0.01%). Because of the way the three season porch is designed, it doesn’t get wet underneath. The rain has to be blowing virtually sideways to get rain underneath. The same is true inside the porch, so I’m lucky I can leave those windows open day and night, from April to October.

Okay, so this means I don’t have to stop reading when it is raining. This is a HUGE plus for me, especially this summer when it has been super rainy. And since rainy days are prime reading days, it’s basically heaven on earth for me.

Cut to Tuesday night. I was out reading and it rained a bit. No big deal. Then it got dark and a storm blew in. It was rapidly cooling off outside and I was considering heading in (I was reading on my iPad, so the dark didn’t matter) but it was a good part of the book and I was enjoying the sounds and smells of the storm, so I stayed put.

Suddenly, something wet and slimy landed on my bare leg. Okay, I just got a chill typing that. Truly. It was dark outside, so I couldn’t see it. Instead, I just freaked. FREAKED. Remember this? It wasn’t quite that bad, because I wasn’t naked, but still, I was in capri pants and it was on my bare skin.

So I freak out and start kicking both legs, which were previously resting on a footstool. Kicking like a maniac with one hand holding my iPad to keep it from crashing to the ground, I felt whatever it was leave my skin.

I calmed down and finally brought my legs to rest on the footstool when whatever it was touched my other leg! Again with the freaking and kicking and not knowing what the hell was happening. So I removed my feet from the footstool, but I was so freaked out I didn’t want to put my feet on the ground because I didn’t know what was happening and I was barefoot (my sandals were under the footstool where I had slipped them off) so I simply stuck my legs straight out. And, naturally, because I was on a swing, I start swinging wildly about in the dark with nothing to anchor me. During this time I was chanting, out loud, pleasebealeaf, pleasebealeaf, pleasebealeaf.  After maybe 20 seconds, my legs were starting to hurt, but I was calming down and I realized I needed to figure this out. On the heels of that thought was the reminder that I was holding an iPad IN MY HAND and it emits light. Um, duh?

So I flipped the screen toward the ground and, obviously, saw nothing, since the fear of the ground was all in my imagination, and finally put my feet down. As I stopped moving I was able to turn toward the footstool and I aimed my iPad again.

There it was, the source of all this drama.

A tiny green tree frog. Okay he wasn’t tiny, like maybe 1.5″ long. Which is sizeable, but by no means terrifying. Frogs do not bother me in the least. Except when it is storming, and dark and they are wet and land on my skin, uninvited, then, I guess, they bother me plenty. But I was laughing as I saw him, and I leaned forward and pushed him off the footstool with my hand. Because frogs don’t bother me. I touched him, he hopped off, I resettled in my spot and dove back into my book.

But something was bugging me, niggling in the back of my brain…

Finally, I switched over from the book to my browser and googled how high tree frogs can jump. I mean, I see frogs and toads frequently and they hop a bit, I’ve seen them jump great distances, forward, but never have I seen one jump high. Maybe and inch or two off the ground, but that’s it. However, this particular frog landed on my leg, on the footstool, which I am guessing is close to four feet off the ground when all is said and done. Four feet in the air! So my brain was wondering if he was on a tree or something and got blown onto my leg? I mean, it sounds crazy, but how else did he get there.

And then Google told me that tree frogs can jump up to 7 feet in the air, or 50 times their own body length. Wowza. I mean, that’s impressive, but also strange that I never knew that. Now I’m a little creeped out. Before I saw frogs and thought nothing of it, but now, knowing that if I am walking and see a frog on the ground, he could literally leap up and land on my head. That’s a little creepy.

Anyway, I filed that information away for later and finished my book. I was so close that even though I was cold and living in my own private dramedy, I wanted to finish. So I did. As soon as the book was done, I shut off the iPad and lifted my feet to the ground. I stuck my left foot under the stool and slid it in my flip flop. Then my right, but I couldn’t quite reach it, it may have gotten moved in the frantic flailing of the aforementioned dramedy. So I stood up on my left foot and reached further and my toe caught the edge of my shoe. I scootched it toward me and finally slid my foot in…and my toes met something slimy!

Again with the instinctive reaction, my foot kicked and the sandal went flying. Not far, mind you, just off my foot. STILL standing my my left foot, I leaned backward and grabbed my iPad, turned it back on and shined the light. My flip flop was about a foot away and now sole side up. I leaned forward with my hand and picked it up and that little frog was sitting underneath. Apparently, he thought he could make himself at home in my sandal.

Not true my freaky, jumping, little nemesis. This time I picked up the shoe in my hand, put it on, and grabbed my iPad to head inside. I kept the light pointed at the ground the whole time so I didn’t accidentally step on this frog, or worse, he didn’t hop right inside with me. As I stepped across the threshold, I turned back for one last look and the dim light from the screen could barely touch him several feet away, but it was enough to see the gleam of mirth in his froggy eye as he sat there mocking me.

Damn frog.

About A Dog

I seem to have a lot of stories about dogs, (see here and here and here) considering the fact that I don’t have any pets. Not anymore. I used to have a bird, but that was a long time ago. Her name was Sloopy, but she is a story for another time.

Last night I was driving home. As I turned onto my street, there was a pickup truck pulled over on the side of the road, with his flashers on. It was strange. I have never seen anyone stopped on my street, it’s just not that kind of street, poor visibility, et cetera. I swung wide to pass him and turn into my upper street, and I glanced over as I passed, just to make sure no help was needed. Well, there was a guy, out of the truck, crouching down to pet a dog. Lily. Her I know. She belongs to George, who lives a few houses down from me, and she is the world’s friendliest Yellow Lab. I didn’t see George, but it was dark out and I wasn’t really looking.

I pulled in to my garage, got out, grabbed the packages outside and carried them in the house. I then went back out and walked to the mailbox. As I was grabbing my mail, I heard George yelling for Lily. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach and I headed in George’s direction. I called out to him to ask if Lily was missing. Sure enough, he couldn’t find her. They came out to do something and she took off chasing something. He called for her but she didn’t come back. He then went inside to put on his warm coat and grab her leash to hunt for her.

In the minute or so that he was inside I came in and saw the truck and Lily. I kid you not, from the time I saw the truck to my conversation with George, was under two minutes. In that time, someone actually picked up his dog. I explained what I saw but I didn’t have much detail. Pickup truck. Dark color. Where he pulled over and that it was a guy and definitely Lily. That’s it. But I may have seen this dog get kidnapped.

It happened to me once, long ago. I had a dog in college. Thunder. A beautiful Husky mix, pure white with blue eyes. Someone stole him right from my parents yard. I know that feeling. It makes you sick. George was visibly upset. I didn’t know what to say, certainly there was nothing I could do. I asked if she had tags and she does. She is also microchipped, which is good. But as George said, if he wanted her, he could just keep her and no one would ever know.

I fell back on all I could offer him. I said “George, it’s the holiday season and it is raining and about to turn cold tonight, perhaps we are dealing with a Good Samaritan who saw a loose dog and picked her up to keep her safe. Maybe he will get home, read her tag, and call”. There was nothing else to say or do. I apologized for not being able to do more and headed for home.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number, but it was local and I just had a feeling. I picked up and it was George. He was calling to tell me I was right. That guy saw Lily running in the road. He pulled over and she was friendly so he picked her up and drove home. At home, he checked her tag and called George. Then he drove her home, safe and sound. He really was trying to be a Good Samaritan even though he kind of made it worse as he picked Lily up right in front of her own house. But, she is safe in her happy home.

George just wanted me to know and thank me for letting him know what I saw. I was glad to know that she was safe and that there are still kind strangers out there in the world. It’s a good reminder any time, but I love it even more this time of year.

And, yes, Mom, this is cranky George from the pool. He must have mellowed since retiring from pool duty. And he seems to love me. He talked my ear off for ten minutes during that call! He also told me he loves my bells-Christmas decor for those who haven’t been to my house this time of year. They are motion activated and musical. He said he heard them one night and wandered around to find the source and loves them so much he makes a point to walk by and set them off each evening on his walk with Lily.

Who knew? There is my holiday tale of Good Samaritanism and Christmas bells. All starring Lily the lab.

Hairbrush Mess

Yesterday, I was getting ready for work. The last thing I do in the bathroom is brush my hair. Yes, the last. I don’t know why, it just is. So I’m ready to go and I reach into my medicine cabinet to grab my hairbrush.

It was stuck.

Stuck.

Like someone superglued it to the shelf.

I have an old hairbrush, one that I used to used and liked a lot. It was a cushion brush, with nylon bristles and a gel grip handle. I loved it, actually, but it wasn’t always the best at getting out tangles. Then I stumbled across the Wet Brush. I bought one from Amazon and I really liked it. It worked well at detangling my hair. Well, the Wet Brush was stuck so I grabbed my gel brush. I picked it up and….ew.

The gel on the handle was gooping off onto my hand. It was so, so, gross. Can’t really describe that feeling but it was gross. Gel oozing through my palm and down my wrist. *shudder*

Now I was pretty certain why the other brush was stuck. But what to do? I only have two brushes, and the other was stuck and I had to get going. So I grabbed a wad of toilet paper, wrapped it over the gooey, goopy handle and brushed my hair. Then I threw the whole thing in the trash. Goodbye old brush.

I got to work and one of the first things I do is flip open Yahoo to read the news before opening my email. Lo and behold, one of the top stories on Yahoo News yesterday was “How to Pick the Best Brush for your Hairstyle”. Huh. That’s fantastic. Clearly a sign. I opened up the article and read the entire thing. And guess what I found? The best brush for me? The Wet Brush.

Well, that was anticlimactic.

I mean, it’s nice to have your choices reinforced but still.

Yesterday, I got home and thought nothing of it. I read like a fiend. Last day of June and all. Then went to bed. Before bed, I like to brush out my hair. So, there I am at 11:30, and I reach for my brush and….damn. I forgot about the stuck. So I opened the cabinet and pulled the shelf out, with the brush still stuck to it.

It was so nasty. Melted gel from the other brush had leaked all over the wooden shelf. It has solidified and trapped my brush, and there was tons of hair matted in….it was really disgusting. I should have taken a picture but I didn’t want anyone to lose their lunch after seeing it.

So I set out to remedy this situation. I scrubbed and scrubbed that shelf, picked off the hair, removed the brush, scrubbed the brush. Oh, it was a project and not a fun one. But, eventually it all got clean and the brush survived the experience, so that’s good, no need to buy another Wet Brush.

But. as I was cleaning it up, I was washing my brush, which is something I never do. Evidently you are supposed to wash your brushes, but really? Who does that? And I noticed the brush was getting those little rings at the bottom of the bristles, the ones that are hair and dust and probably dirt. I figure that’s why you are supposed to wash a brush, because those are hard to get off once they’ve formed. It reminded me of a story from many years past. I was….14? 15? and Kelly came over to spend the night. We were, I don’t know, giving each other makeovers or some such thing and I had this old brush. It was fuchsia with blue tipped bristles. I liked that brush. It, too had these little dust balls around the bristles. Well, Kelly noticed them and we tried washing the brush to get rid of them, but it didn’t work. One of us, I don’t remember who, had the bright idea to get them off by fire. So we got a lighter from somewhere, and we went out on the back deck and I held the brush while she took the lighter and burned off these little dust balls. It worked. Yes. But it smelled….horrid. You can imagine. And well, there was one tiny problem we hadn’t considered. Fire + nylon bristles. Um, yeah, we melted several bristles on that brush. Whoops.

For some reason, I didn’t want my parents to know. Perhaps because we were so stupid. But we didn’t tell them and I kept using the melted brush….for years. Seriously. It was absurd. But I did like that brush, so maybe that’s why.

And so, I did not reenact my youthful folly last night, I just cleaned the brush the best I could and brushed my hair and went to bed. That’s it. The whole story. Just gross and a strange memory, but I guess at least my medicine cabinet is cleaner than it was.

 

Asparagus-ish Soup

Ha! Say that three times fast.

Remember my disastrous start as a person who cooks?

You can read about it here and here and here if you don’t.

Well last Friday, I was working my PT job and another librarian came in with this huge bag in her hand and stuffed it in the teeny mini fridge. It was crazy, watching her do that. She then told me the bag was filled with asparagus from her garden and said it was free for the taking. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, hands down. So, upon leaving that day, I yanked the bag from the fridge and pulled out maybe a pound of this giant asparagus this woman grew.

Then I had to figure out what to do with it. Obviously, I asked my mom. She suggested asparagus soup and said she had a good recipe. Unfortunately, she never gave me the recipe. Not a huge deal. I then Googled “asparagus soup crockpot” on Sunday, when I decided to make something. I found tons and tons of recipes and they were all different. One thing I kept seeing over and over is that you should blend your asparagus soup to make it, essentially, cream of asparagus, most claimed for better flavor.

I don’t have anything that can do that, so I shrugged off that concern and closed my computer.

I decided it was just soup and I was going to wing it.

Yes, wing it.

I cleaned the asparagus and cut it up. Into the crock pot. It didn’t look like much.

So I dug into my fridge. I had some cauliflower (another veg I love) on hand that needed to be used up. So I chopped that up and tossed it in with the asparagus. I also found a green pepper that needed to be used. Cut up and toss in. And there was half a zucchini. That went in, too. Then I had two small red potatoes that were getting soft, so I scrubbed them, cut them and tossed them in, too.

Now, it was less “asparagus” soup and more “vegetable” soup, but there was still more asparagus than anything else. Thus: asparagus-ish.

I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand. I had some bouillon and could have made some, but that seemed like too much work. So I used the three cans of chicken broth I had on hand. That didn’t seem like enough liquid, so I added the one can of beef broth I had on hand.

Then I threw in a little kosher salt, some garlic powder, some fresh cracked pepper. I stood over it for a moment and gave it some thought, and decided it needed a little heat, for a boost of flavor. So I added some crushed red pepper. No measuring, for anything, just threw things in the crock pot. I cooked it on low, all day long. Probably 8-9 hours. Then I tasted it. It was okay. Not spectacular. I decided that these wise women of the blogosphere may be right. It needed to be creamy.

Some of the recipes called for the adding of heavy cream, but I didn’t want it to be that heavy….or to add the extra fat. So I let it cool, put it in the fridge overnight and left it. On Monday, I stopped at Target and bought a hand blender. This one here. It was affordable (and I had a $5 gift card) and also came with an extra measuring cup, of which I only have one, so win all around.

I went home last night and warmed up the soup, still in the crock pot. When it was warm, I used my new hand blender to blend the soup. Essentially, I pureed it. I did not add anything to it, just blended it together.

Then I tried it.

It was……AMAZING. One of my favorite things I’ve ever cooked and probably the first thing I’ve cooked on my own, without using any sort of recipe. The texture was perfect, the blending was absolutely the right way to go. Because I added the dark beef broth the color of the soup isn’t as attractive as one would hope, but who cares when it tastes like that. It’s got a little bit of kick to it, and is the perfect amount of salty (no extra needed) and it is just awesome. I ate a huge bowl for dinner last night and contemplated eating a second. I was full, but it was so good. I am very excited to have it again for dinner tonight.

So there you go. I’ve told the tales of my flops in the kitchen, I figured it was about time I shared one of my successes as well. Let me know if you try it!

 

The Perfect Sunday

Really, truly, yesterday was the perfect Sunday. I did just enough to feel productive but still little enough to feel like I didn’t do anything at all, striking that perfect balance.

Friday I was hectic, crazy busy all day long (like 7am to midnight all day long) and then Saturday was our family’s Mother’s day. It was a lovely day celebrating my favorite person in all the world, so really, this should be about my terrific weekend, but it all culminated in a wonderful Sunday.

While I was gone on Sunday, my awesome dad went over to my house and proceeded to finish another project I began. A few months back, I had the idea to buy a hammock swing. When it is nice outside, I read. Outdoors. All summer. Reading outside is one of my favorite things in the world and there is such a small window of time when it is actually possible. I have patio furniture, but it’s not super comfortable. For three summers, I’ve sat in hard, uncomfortable chairs for hours at a time, reading books. For some reason, it never occurred to me to fix this, before this year. I started hunting, and wasn’t finding what I wanted. Of course, I didn’t really know what I wanted, so maybe that is why.

Then, randomly, I saw something about a hammock swing, I don’t even remember where anymore. But that seemed like a great idea, to me. I was then on the hunt for the perfect swing. It had to be a good size, able to support my weight, and affordable. A taller order than you might guess. Then I finally found this swing at Overstock. I’ve had it in my garage for some time. I’ve been asking my dad to come and set it up. About a month ago, he came over for a different purpose and took a look at it, to get an idea of what he needed to do. I’ve not said anything or bothered him about it, but I was getting nervous. It is getting nicer outside and I wanted it up so I could use it as much as possible.

Well, Friday was the day. He didn’t even tell me, he just went over and did it. When I got home Friday, there was some work happening in the back yard, so I couldn’t really try it out, and I had shit to do anyway. I eventually got to relax in the new chair at about 9pm.

photo 4
Trying out the new chair, yes, it’s dark outside.

photo 5
The view I was enjoying FROM the new chair. It was so beautiful, at least for the five minutes I got to sit there while my food was cooking.

And then Saturday, as mentioned, I was gone all day, celebrating the awesomeness that is my mom.

Which brings me to my perfect Sunday. I popped out of bed and the sun was shining. I ran downstairs and went outside and sat in my swing. Just because I could. I just sat there for a bit, soaking in the warmish air and sunshine, swinging away.

Then it was inside to throw a meal in the crockpot. I made something to eat for brunch and then watched a movie. Then I cleaned up the kitchen, threw some laundry in and went outside with a new book. Picked up five of them at the library on Saturday morning, so I was excited to dig in. I read the first one outside in my swing. I then changed the laundry over and checked on my food and started another book. After finishing that one, I went back in and ate dinner, picked up my house, washed the crock pot and a few pans from Fridays cooking spree and went back outside around 7:30 to start book #3. I couldn’t read for long, because the light was starting to fade. Maybe an hour? And it was cooling off considerably, but essentially I spent almost the entire day in my new swing, reading in the sunshine. It was EXACTLY what I envisioned when I bought it and I am so happy it lived up to my expectations.

photo 1
That’s book #1. You can only partially see the swing, but you can clearly see my happiness and joy radiating out.

I love that it has a cup holder for my water. It also has a footstool, but that works better for lying back and napping than for reading.

Overall, I 150% love my new hammock swing and honestly wish I would have thought of it years ago. My neighbors both came out during the day yesterday and commented on my new furniture. Both thought it was a great idea, and it is. So, many, many thanks to my dad and Alice for getting it up in time for the nice weather!

If you know me, come check it out, I promise, you will want one, too!

Barclay Street

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for like an entire year. Now the emotion is kind of fading, but I just had a BIZARRE experience that seemed worth sharing.

I grew up in St. Paul.

Right here, specifically.

955

 

That is my childhood home. I was 12 when we moved to the house where my parents still live today. All those years, my parents kept the house, renting it out. Last spring, they decided it was finally time to sell. They (we, I helped some) cleaned it up and prepped it for sale. It sold FAST. Super fast. And early last summer, it was gone. No longer our house.

955 back

 

That’s the back of the house. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of the playhouse, which was amazing beyond belief. I planned to write a blog about this house because it was my childhood home. I have so many memories there. Kelly and I met when I lived at this house. In fact, outside of my family, she is the only person I know who has been there, has memories there, even slept there. Also, my dad build that amazing deck, which wraps around the side of the house and ends in the front (you can see it in the first photo, but the ramp down the driveway is missing.) He also build the playhouse, on stilts, over the sandbox. There was a ladder going up, a slide going down, a deck on the playhouse, an actual door with a lock, windows that opened and closed, it was painted, carpeted, and had electricity. Basically the coolest place in the world. We slept out there in the summer.

Okay, moving on. So, my parents sold the house almost a year ago and it is not in our family anymore. I was surprisingly nostalgic about it. I even made Kelly drive over to see it our last day visiting (she was at home, pumping and I called and said “come right now” and she literally put down the pump and left Mark with 3 kids, including the baby who was…maybe 2 months old? and drove over to see it).

The point? None. No point. Just to share that a piece of my childhood is gone now.

Now, onto the point. About 15 minutes ago, a student was in my library. When she walked in, in fact, she was the only student in here. She asked me to critique her resume. Ok, I do that often, so no problem. I look at her resume and what do I see?

This girl lives on Barclay Street. Where I grew up. The street where you can find the house pictured above. True story. We lived at 955. I won’t tell you her address, but it wasn’t too far away, a different block, for sure, but not far.

First, I do my actual work and finish her resume. While I am doing that, another girl comes in. Now there are exactly three people in the library, me and these two students. Then, as I give resume girl her papers back, I tell her, “you live just a few houses from where I grew up!” She didn’t seem quite as interested in that tidbit. But I was excited. It’s cool. I said, “955 Barclay Street”. And, just like that, the third girl whips around in her chair and says, “OHMYGOD, WHAT?!?!?” In an amazed tone.

She went on to tell us that she was born on Barclay Street in St. Paul. Her parents lived there when they were first married and after she was born, they moved to Oakdale. She was 3-4 when they moved and she doesn’t remember the house number but she said she’d ask her mom.

Somehow, the only three people in the library at that time ALL LIVED ON THE EXACT SAME STREET. Isn’t that so weird? I am still having trouble processing the sheer magnitude of the coincidence.

We chatted for a minute more but, frankly, the chitchat that accompanies, “we used to live on the same street” dies out faster than you might think. I am considering forming us into an all-girl band…Barclay Girls. Do you think that’s taking it too far?