New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

About time to start de-decorating, before we run into Valentine’s…

I love the sparkly lights. And our oil lamps, which we have in number—7 such. We just bought 4 gallons more lamp oil. (Did you know you can get it from restaurant supply far, far cheaper than you can buy it from other sources?) We’re ablaze with such lamps, and the cats in our house have to learn about live flame. They do. Pretty fast. Instinct says ‘hot, no touch.’ Never had one get burned, though Ysabel once lost a few tail hairs. (“Watch it, silly kitty! Look behind you!”)

We’re going to de-decorate the living room first. Then use the gained clear space to bring out the ornament boxes for the tree.

The house-cleaning is holding up nicely: we’re still not cluttered.

The scanning of old records proceeds apace.

And our snow is vanishing in ‘striped’ weather: it snows, then rains, snows, then rains…

I had one worrisome thing to straighten out: the insurance company we used to use for the house sent us a second bill. Wak! We’d switched to another company last year. I called up these people with whom I have canceled FOUR times, both house and car, and they haven’t been able to get the notion…I finally got it through to them, and they still asked, “Are you SURE you want to cancel?” Me: “Since I’ve been insured by another company all year, yes, I want to cancel!” So they send me a check for the year’s insurance, but knowing how they’ve goofed up, front to back, not paying off when we had a flood in the kitchen (the floor was ruined and we haven’t managed to replace it,just kind of get it sort of flat again) and being very upfront to charge us money—I was not going to give them a chance to screw this up. So I had to call the bank (our mortgage holder). The bank was perplexed. But at least the old insurance company, who had collected money from OUR account, admitted their error and refunded us what they took (we were paying the other guys via the mortgage payments) we were glad to have it clarified what to do, and that, yes, the right guys are providing our insurance. The company that screwed up was Met Life. I’d have thought they were a good company. Our kitchen floor says otherwise.

20 comments to About time to start de-decorating, before we run into Valentine’s…

  • smartcat

    I read somewhere that if you haven’t taken down your Christmas decorations by Twelfth Night you are supposed to leave them up until Candlemas Day or it’s bad luck. Just saying…..!

    • Walt

      Wait. What? Twelfth Night is the twelfth night of Christmas. So why would it be bad luck to have Christmas decorations up during Christmas? And the “thirteenth” day of Christmas is Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Wise Men and Christ’s baptism. Epiphany used to be the major celebration, and the twelve days of Christmas were a prelude, something like Advent is for Christmas now. It’s true Epiphany Season, often ending on Candlemas, has a different color scheme–orange and red–but an instantaneous change? (Hm: maybe this explains the prevalence of orange or amber lights in Christmas strings.)

      If you really like the lights, white is always in season.

      Anent insurance: Insurance companies make money and always will. And every time you make a claim, they will want to raise your rates to recover the claim, even though they’ve been making money all along. This argues that one should ask for the biggest deductibles you can stand and self-insure for things below that. (And put the premium difference in the piggy bank.) Given how many insurance companies like to quibble and not pay or slow pay, it really doesn’t make sense at some level to have insurance for any loss that isn’t big enough to be worth hiring an attorney to enforce. And this comes from a Californian, whose state has quite a history of activist insurance commissioners.

      • paul

        Over half a century ago my Dad persuaded me to buy a whole-life policy from Prudential, for what is now a rather inconsequential amount. At that age the premiums were also inconsequential. Turns out I never had a family to benefit from it. Now it accumulates enough dividends to “pay for itself”.

        In any event, in those days Prudential was a mutual insurance company. Some years ago management had us vote on taking it private. I voted against, but they did it.

        I’d like to have all insurance companies return to mutual companies! But as they say, “Follow the money.” 😉

  • chondrite

    When I bought my car last summer, I had to go all the way around Robin Hood’s barn to convince my insurance company that I no longer wanted to insure my old car, which I was in the process of selling, and just let the insurance lapse. They insisted I had to formally cancel, or my insurance would autorenew and I would be charged anyhow. Since the insurance was due less than 2 weeks later, I cancelled, and sold my car the next week. Of course, those last 2 weeks were never refunded or prorated to my new policy.

  • Silverglass

    Ah, yes, insurance companies! Mine decided that I needed roof repairs. I had it done (could not afford to redo the whole roof, but they didn’t say I had to anyway). I was called and told the repairs were fine. Then I was called AGAIN and told “not fine.” They said they were canceling my house insurance. They did, however, accept the premium for 2014 from my mortgage company. Still in the process of trying to get this straightened out. I believe they violated a state law in at least one way; we shall see.

  • threadbender

    MetLife’s experience is in…LIFE insurance, not property insurance 😉

  • CJ

    I believe that. They’re certainly not ready for prime time in the property area.

  • chondrite

    One also does not wish to contemplate the way you get raked over the coals if you need ‘specialty’ insurance, like flood or hurricane or earthquake. Those are theoretically rare occurrences, but you still must pay exorbitantly for them. One further agrees with Walt about difficulty of collecting on an event that should be fairly cut and dried.

  • CJ

    When Jane and Lynn and I lived in OKC, we were in the flood-potential area for ‘the largest riprap dam in the world,’ hand built by volunteer labor during the WPA in the Dust Bowl, a bit of trivia I learned while researching dams for Hestia. Hefner Dam, in other words, tests the design limits for riprap construction (piling rocks) and holds the OKC water supply. It does leak. And if it ever goes, it will take out the OKC water department hq, the intake pipes, not to mention my old subdivision, two adjacent ones, and some very high-dollar subdivisions to the north—we’re talking McMansions up there.

    At one point in the house-buying they negligently asked me did I want flood insurance. Heh. Hell yes. I took it. Some ridiculously low price. Later they claimed I wasn’t in a flood area and shouldn’t be able to buy it. [Clearly some local politico had sworn on a stack of Bibles that dam would never fail.] But I have it, I said, and learned so long as I kept paying it, I could still have it. So I kept it. And hope the next owner continued it. Did I mention OKC does get very rare earthquakes?

    • I have this phobia of dams. The dams in my area are part of the Miami Valley Flood Control and they are not closed dams, but rather have restricted gates that prevent excess water from coming through and overwhelming the banks. I absolutely despised driving across Hoover Dam, especially with its insanely low speed limit. Yes, I know that the dam is still curing and therefore, getting stronger. I don’t trust the rocks on either side of the dam, though, and I couldn’t get off that thing quickly enough. I’m the same way with bridges, which is probably why I won’t be willing to drive across something like the Verrazano-Narrows, or the Golden Gate Bridges. I rode a motorcycle (in the rain) across a steel-grid bridge over the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and that was NOT a fun experience, either. Bridges, dams, tunnels, they’re all artificially constructed, and even though our engineering technology is very good, Mother Nature’s had billions of years to perfect any counter-technology she wishes to unleash. We hates them, we does!

      • chondrite

        I took a tour some time back of the Hoover Dam, and got to see the part of the innards accessible to the public; it was fascinating. If you don’t care for bridges, stay the divil away from the Mackinac Bridge and the Sunshine (Tampa) Skyway. They are marvels of engineering and if you are at all height-nervous, they will give you the collywobbles.

    • tulrose

      Is that up in the Nicholls Hills area?

      • CJ

        It’s fairly close. Nichols Hills is over a bit and on the other, safe, end of the lake. What Hefner would take out if it went is Ski Island, some of…Lord! I can’t believe the name has left me!…the fancy area north of Britton Road and the other side of May: and the flood would likely reach from near May and Britton clear past MacArthur and Rockwell, northward. I think Ski Island would be completely drowned. The only salvation would be to run for the boats, which most people have, and I’d pick the guy with the party barge, because those things have killer buoyancy…

        • I was looking at Google Earth last night, I take it the dam is on the west side of the lake, and the channel leading out from it is just south of the golf course? I wouldn’t want to be downstream of that channel if the dam lets go…..

  • Wolf Lahti

    Thank you for naming the guilty. I see so many posts by people saying that some company they dealt with offers horrible service or lethal products, but they are not going to say who they are because they’re afraid of being sued for libel or something. (Hint: Truth is an ironclad defense in cases of libel.)

    I always make it a point to name guilty parties when some company has done me wrong, because my complaints then at least have the positive effect of letting other people know to avoid doing business with them. (I once even got an apology from Costco for a completely bungled PR stunt I bitched about on LiveJournal. How Costco’s powers that be happened to read that particular blog posting I have no idea.)

  • pence

    As far a Met Life life insurance goes -my father had a couple of policies with them. When he died they were the easiest and most considerate of the bureaucracies that I that to deal with. But that was years ago when they were still mutual.

    • I have two whole-life policies with MetLife, they’re both pretty much old enough that they pay for themselves, and sometimes, even pay me in dividends. I’ve also got an IRA with them, and I don’t touch that, yet (I have another 10 years). I won’t say that they’re necessarily the best, but they haven’t tried to push more insurance on me than I need. I had an evaluation done a few years ago, a new agent took over my account, and we discussed what I have. As a retired veteran, there are certain things that the government will provide, and since I have certain decorations (medals), I’m also eligible to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. I’m not sure I want to go there, there are more qualified people who deserve a spot there than I do. When my brother died 4 years ago, I gave up my spot that my parents had reserved for me so he would be closer. (The cemetery STILL screwed it up, but not as badly as it could have been) Mom and Dad were concerned about me, then, and I said, “Look, I’m not going to care at that point.” But anyway, back to the insurance, he said that he felt I was more than adequately covered and needed no further coverage. I thought that was decent of him.

  • pence

    There was one life insurance co that used to have the most beautifully done ads – always captioned with my insurance co is – why do you ask – with the protagonist is some hazardous position like bending over his tripod camera – cloth over his head photographing some tweety bird as a Cape Buffalo charged toward his rear elevation!
    I had a couple of them filed away for years because the art work was so good!

  • CJ

    Companies personally on my ‘once and not-again’ list are: Met Life, AT&T, Sheraton.

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