‘Tis the Season to go Crazy!

Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up.

I don’t know how your banks handle online purchases, but our bank instituted a system a couple of years ago where for most stores, they send you an SMS with a code number. You have to type that code into a separate screen to verify your purchase. I understand it and appreciate the added security.

At least I DID. Last summer, for a variety of reasons, including that a slightly deranged person had my mobile number and was sending me kind of disturbed text messages, I canceled my old portable and got a new account with a new, unlisted phone number.

I knew that I needed to let my bank in on this, so went to their website where I duly typed in the new number for the two accounts where I have debit cards. I waited a week or so, then made an online purchase. Except I noticed that the SMS went to my old phone number.

I called the helpline, they explained that my bank had to change the number and diligently set the security clearance to allow me to use some other information as a temporary fix. I called my local branch, gave them the new number and was assured that it would go into my file.

A month or so later, I noticed that I was again getting an SMS to the wrong number. I again called the helpline and was told that the number had not been changed in their system. They reset the temporary fix and I called my bank again.

Two weeks ago I tried to make an online purchase and one of my debit cards was rejected. I checked and there was plenty of money in the account. I went into our local pharmacy and used it with no problem. I was able to get money from the ATM. The only thing I couldn’t do was make an online purchase.

I called the helpline again. They were less helpful. Because I had been using the temporary security for so long, it was no longer valid. No, they couldn’t change the mobile number, only my bank could do that. I called the bank, he looked and said it was changed but would send the info through again.

Now, here we are in the holiday season and I need to make purchases. Only I can’t use my credit card. I spent almost the entire day today calling various “helpless” lines to get it fixed. My banker yelled at me (and he’s an extremely nice man who I didn’t think COULD yell). JM yelled at the customer non-service rep, even though she was very nice and trying her best.

Finally, we went to the bank in Limoux and tried to sort it out while we were there. Both our branch manager and his second in command called the service desk. They were told to do something to a software that they didn’t even know existed! They STILL don’t know how to resolve the problem! All the computers at our bank show the right information; only the computer at the security center are wrong, because their software doesn’t communicate with the normal banking software and they don’t have the power to change it at their end.

My branch manager wanted me to cancel my debit cards and get new ones, except that I have direct debits for various things on those cards, and if we do that, it opens up a whole different can of worms.

I asked if I was the only person in the area who had ever changed her cell number; my branch manager didn’t think so, but had never run across this problem before.

I just love being a trend setter.

Ciao for now.


An Anniversary and a Mystery

Wednesday was the 5th anniversary of our buying our house here in the Possum Kingdom!

Sometimes it feels as if we’ve been here forever, but mostly we still feel that we need to pinch ourselves to believe that we really live here and aren’t just on holiday.

Two things this week point out those wildly opposite and diverse viewpoints. On Tuesday we had one of our not-frequent-enough potluck dinners with some of our neighbors. It’s always difficult to get five or six households to all fit into a schedule; thus the irregularity of the event. But, as always, it was a lovely, relaxed evening. Each of us made something that we thought the others would enjoy and were all satisfied to see that nothing was left in the serving dishes after they’d made the rounds.

My contribution was a vegetable/sweet potato soup that I’ve recently come up with. I was afraid people would find the idea of it too strange and not even want to taste it, but everyone wants the recipe, so I declare it a success!

As we were sitting there discussing various and sundry things, I suddenly realized how utterly comfortable I am with the lovely people sitting around the table. We discussed things that had occurred in the village and feeling a part of that was a wonderful, warm feeling. I feel closer to these people whom I’ve only known for five years than I did to neighbors we had in Los Angeles for 20 years!

The feeling that this is still all new came yesterday.

We woke up to one of those truly glorious days that we sometimes have in the midst of winter when you are starting to despair of ever again seeing the sun. The sky was blue, the temperatures were mild and the sun was shining on the melted snow. It was really the kind of day where you feel you need to do something, anything, that will get you out of the house for a little while.

We were running low on grape juice and were totally out of Blanquette, so w realized that what was needed was a trip to our favorite winery in Castelrang, “Le Domaine de Cassignoles, owned by M. and Mme. Rolland. We called to make sure they would be in and planned a visit for the afternoon.

Unfortunately, by the time we left, the storm that the evil forces at Metéo France had predicted was starting to blow its way into the area. Our blue skies were gone, but we decided to not let that stop us.

One of the things that always strikes us is the small road we take to get to Castelrang. It reminds us of some of the back roads we used to take in the Var when we would go to Toulon on vacation. Both JM and I had one of those flashback moments that made us aware of how truly lucky we are that this is now our life and NOT just a vacation. We felt all cozy and happy despite the gray skies.

Once at the Domaine, we let the dogs out of the car, because the Rollands are very kind and love dogs. They always insist that we let ours run a bit. They had a blast and, as usual, I always feel a sense of disapproval from Shmoo Alexander that he does not have such a nice place to play on a regular basis.

We set out to come home and here is where the mystery fits in. I plug my mobile phone into the car stereo to use the MP3 player. 90% of the music on it is from CDs I’ve had for a very long time and copied over. I probably hadn’t bought a new CD in L.A. for about two years before we moved. The rest of the music is stuff that I get from iTunes periodically when I turn American Express points into music gift certificates. So, all the music on my phone is mine.

Yet, suddenly songs that I absolutely don’t recognize started to play! It was weird, like having crossed over into an alternate universe. In particular, there was a French song about being in a Gay marriage that I swear I have never, ever heard before! In fact, when I looked at my iTunes software I can’t actually even find that song; so where did it come from???? We may never know the answer.

Ciao for now.


How I learned to mind my own business

I’ve never done this before, but someone sent me this joke and it really struck a chord. So, in case it’s one YOU missed, happy Tuesday!

How I learned to mind my own business :

I was walking past the mental hospital the other day,
And all the patients were shouting, ’13….13….13.’

The fence was too high to see over, but I saw a
Little gap in the planks, so I looked through to see
What was going on……

Some idiot poked me in the eye with a stick!

Then they all started shouting ’14….14….14’…

Ciao for now!