Friday, July 31, 2009

Beware of your credit card company!

I'm sure my readers are all too smart to fall for this little -- I can't call it anything but a scam. But just in case you have not run into this, here's a caution.

If you pay bills online,

WATCH OUT for the date that the website defaults to, as being the "payment date."

Used to be that my credit card company's payment site defaulted to the current business day. ONLY if I logged on after business hours, or on a holiday, or weekend, would the default date flip over, to the next business day. And in fact, no earlier dates could even be clicked on the site.

But those were the Good Ol' Days.

Today I logged on to pay my bill. Just after lunch, at 1:00 PM.

If I had not looked carefully, I would have missed their little deception. My payment date was apparently .... Monday? August 3rd ??!

The bill was due today, and that meant it was about to mark my payment as late.

I thought : "Uh-oh! They've backpedaled the cut-off time to noon instead of 5 PM!"

They have this little drop-down calendar, about the size of a pea, next to the transaction. As mentioned, when their definition of "today" is officially over, that calendar has no previous dates. Your earliest choice is the next day.

But, those little sonuvaguns! (OK, that's not what I really said) ... Today was still coming up as an active option.

I had to arrow back to "Previous month" because, this being the last day of July, it had set itself to its August calendar.

Then I had to choose July 31st.

I paid, and I paid on time. My confirmation said so. July 31st was available all along, but they'd have levied some obnoxious late penalties if I had not noticed their scam and jumped through their little hoops to choose today's date.

Maybe readers are familiar with this practice, but just make sure they haven't snuck it by you !

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I got this faded and slightly damaged little photo in yesterday's mail, from my same-age cousin, Emily.

Until now, I had never seen a childhood photo of our grandmother. Not one. The most youthful photo I had was this one : which she's certainly over 18, and probably 20-something. She and her sister are the two young ladies on the righthand side of the picture. She's standing, her arm affectionately linked through that of an unknown young man, and her sister is seated in front of them. The other members of this party - no idea who they are!

Of course I knew her only when she was well over 60, but the young lady she is in this outing party photo has always been as familiar as can be, in personality as well as appearance.

Grandmother was charming, witty, bossy, and absolutely NOT someone you lightly chose to cross. I could imagine her easily as that cheerful young woman of the outing photo, in her element -- she and her sister were the Belles of every ball, and she changed not a whit as she aged, loving parties and, as long as she was in charge of things, enjoying the matron role only a little less than she'd enjoyed being young and sought-after.

As Emily and I approached dating age, she once remarked to us, "I can't imagine anything nicer than a nice boy." Remembering that makes me smile.

Grandmother had two sons (Here she is with my dad, who is uncooperatively blurring the photo, 1929 or so):

...but when those sons married and each produced a granddaughter for her within a few weeks, she at last had -- she thought! -- budding debutantes to groom for social success. Our tomboyish ways were a great disappointment to her, and I don't mean that in a particularly cheerful way. I think that, to some small degree, it broke her heart.

Even the shot of her at age 18-22 is "Grandmother." The woman I knew. Someone we all found a bit overpowering, so we fortified ourselves by putting her in a "box" defined by all the family anecdotes: tales of her funny quips, the things she found outrageous, her liking for control. But the childhood photo -- that wide-eyed little girl? That's Katherine, and it's the first glimpse I've ever had of her, and that's kind of scrambling my head. But I'm so SO glad to glimpse her at all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bowl of Plenty

This is not even the first harvest. We've enjoyed a couple tomatoes and an earlier Japanese eggplant. We actually just ate them without my blogging them first! OMG!

My garden gets credit for the peppers. The rest come from the gardens under Larry's care.

The gardening books lie. "Carrots are easy" says one book. "Carrots like full sun all day," says another. What I'm learning is that we live in a subtropical area in which the instructions given by most books aren't applicable. The Ortho book puts us squarely in what it calls "zone 8" and the book is wrong. At least along the coast, the Floridian "zone 9" stripe ought to creep upward. A few carrots are eking out an existence in the box planter, but 12 hours of South Carolina sun is way too much for them. I will NOT give up on carrots. I like them. They keep. They're versatile. This is a learning experience! More will be revealed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Me and The Arts

I tried to take advantage of the cultural opportunities that college gave me -- never mind the uncultural opportunities -- with disappointing results.

Piano 101 wasn't so bad, but I think I needed to study an instrument while I was young, and by "young" I mean 6, not 22. My brain had a lot of trouble with the digital dexterity needed, but I was glad I gave it a try. Embarrassing though it was to plink "Thoughts at Twilight" for a faculty jury, since that was the standard final exam for music classes, I got through it, curtsied as required, and got an A for effort.

Art 101 was another matter. The biggest disaster of my college career. I don't think right for drawing. My brain rejects attempts to translate the 3-D real world into 2 dimensions. I struggled through the class and gave an immense sigh of relief when it ended.

It's kind of miserable to be able to form pictures in one's head and just not be able to realize them on paper (or canvas). But I lucked into living in the digital age, so I have access to Art For The Rest Of Us, i. e., manipulating clip art :

...with a photo program.

And if I were a real artist, I could probably do a better job of even that, since the final product can defy physical reality without my even perceiving it.
My calling this picture "final product" is probably inaccurate, since I'm sure I'll tweak it a lot more before I'm done!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Then it got interesting

Nude. By C. Cosentino

I was up very early shoveling garden dirt, my muscles are sore, I was tired, and I was not in the mood to go to Brookgreen Gardens, or anywhere, but Larry wanted to photograph a particular sculpture, so I decided to fight my general unenthusiasm, take my camera and come along.

A bright, sunny day is actually lousy for picture-taking in Brookgreen. Very little shows to advantage when its own textures are overpowered by sun-dappling. so I didn't fire up the camera in the gardens. But on our way back out, we stopped at the current sculpture show in the indoor gallery and there I found some cool stuff to photograph.
Background: Girl with Sweater. By B. Lucchesi
Foreground: WPA Guitar Girl. By N. Kaz.

Only something was very wrong. The LCD window on my camera blacked out. I could shoot, but I could not see what I was shooting until after I took a picture. Then I would get a playback.

There's a little viewfinder, but -- just to add one more obstacle! -- I was looking at this whole indoor sculpture show through very dark prescription sunglasses, because they were all I'd brought. With the glasses, the view in the finder was too dark and without them, it was too blurry.

I know! I know! 8~) Keep reading.

So to distract myself from freaking out over whether my camera was broken, I decided to play around with shooting through pure guesswork. And that is when things got interesting! No lengthy setups. No framing or fine-tuning. Just click click click, then see what got captured.

Many shots are just what you'd expect -- weird, blurry, a corner of nothing identifiable. But some were pretty cool anyway so here they are -- each picture in this post is exactly as I shot it. Sized down, but not sharpened, cropped, or contrast-manipulated in any way!

This photo is the biggest disappointment because you get no sense at all of the guy's facial expression. The title is Trust. Sculptor: LeaAnn Cogswell. He looks like he's scowling, but he's actually looking sideways and is very worried about something.

[Correction]: Girl with Dark Eyes, by S. Layne.

Projection. By R. Reutimann.

Sumo Wrestling Toads. By S. Worthington

Once we got back outside I kept it up and did some garden scenery too.

Here (below) is Larry rescuing a large grasshopper, which you can't see because it's now under the leaves.

And yes, I figured out what had happened to my camera. Stuffing it into my purse pushed a button I never use. "DISP." Apparently you can turn the display off. Why anybody would want to, I have no idea, but it sure was a relief to push it again and have the display reappear!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A village Fourth

Murrells Inlet has a nice low-key Fourth of July celebration and the centerpiece each year is the boat parade. Locals decorate their boats with red, white, blue, and often gold drapery and flags, and make a traditional circuit through the marsh.

The time varies from year to year, based on the hour high tide occurs -- this photo was taken at about 6 PM -- and the boats are spaced so far apart that you can't get many in one shot. Actually, if you look beyond the boat in the foreground, you'll see (dimly, I'm afraid, because zooming with my camera fuzzes out the quality) other boats ambling around in the harbor awaiting their turns.

They never come down as far as our neighborhood -- the water isn't deep enough -- but we watch from my parents' porch, in between conversing, laying down placemats, eating fried chicken and just lazing around with (in my case) a Pepsi on the rocks, and a book.

And after dark, fireworks will issue from the same place up the inlet, where a cookout and celebration are going on at the harbor park. We might go out to the front porch and watch them pop above the trees.

Hope everyone else is having as enjoyable a weekend!