Baby marigolds

We picked up these tiny plant packs at Target in the dollar section a few months ago, and promptly forgot to plant them.

We've got tomatoes, strawberries, marigolds, oregano, basil and chives. I don't know how viable these seeds are or what will come of the plants, but right now it's fun to have some baby plants on the kitchen windowsill. I'll do my best not to kill them.


Dragonfly chasing its shadow

There are always several shimmery dragonflies to keep me company on my walks around the track. It's almost like they greet me when I arrive on their side of the field.

As I stood in the stadium doing stretches after my workout, a dragonfly came flitting by, suddenly making eye contact with its shadow.

The dragonfly followed the shadow for a while, looked wary, then finally decided it wasn't a threat -- and it wasn't food -- and flew off.


20 years later...

Today I'll be off with Bub, doing this...

and this...

Because 20 years ago today, we were doing this...

and this...

See you soon!


How can a bike ride be even more fun?

I drove past two people this week who seemed to be having more fun than the typical bike rider.

The first was a guy in his mid-20s riding a pink girls' bike with a banana seat. The second was an older woman riding her bike in a red plastic fire helmet!

Have you done something silly on your bike?


Hot shower on a chilly morning

Is there anything better?


Cheap entertainment

As I was sitting at a stoplight, I noticed a mom and her two young children waiting for a bus. The kids were engrossed in playing together, and their toys? A piece of paper and a quarter!

I'd love to know what stories their imaginations were creating for these two simple objects.


A challenge about making choices

Check out Rich Hopkins' Champion of Choice blog, where he takes us on a 91-day journey through the ups and downs, good and bad choices for success.

Rich is a speaker, coach and author who, like many of us, hasn't given as much focus as he would like to several areas of his life and business that he wants to improve. This challenge is about putting the focus where it needs to be for 91 days and achieving the goals he sets forth on day one.

What do you want to change? What goals do you want to set for yourself? Watch Rich's videos and read his blog posts about what he's going through and think about whether a challenge like this might be the kick in the pants you need for yourself!

Here's day one:


Favorite videos: Food Court Musical

Happy Friday!


Share your good customer service stories

I'd like to share some positive customer service experiences I've had lately, as a reminder that blanket statements about bad service are never true! There really are employees out there who like to help people and enjoy the opportunity to do so through their jobs.

Example #1: We received an invoice from Santa Barbara Radiology, a year after our house fire, for Bub's chest X-rays.

We had given all of our insurance information at the time in the emergency room, and since then have changed insurance companies.

I've been on the phone to both SB Radiology and Cigna, our former insurer, and both have been extremely helpful in trying to figure out the problem and resolve it, all the while assuring me that we have no responsibility for this bill. I just got a message the other day that the medical group (who should have paid in the first place) is being re-billed, and everything should clear up soon.

Everyone I've spoken to has been responsive, helpful, friendly and lighthearted. Just what a person needs who really doesn't want to keep reliving a traumatic night in the ER.

Example #2: Last year I changed my phone because after two Razrs that were both defective, I decided it was time to move on to a different model. Unfortunately, my contract wasn't over, so I had to pay for the phone and add another two years to my contract. That's life, right?

Now I'm ready to move on to a smart phone... yes, I'm a little behind. I called Sprint to find out how I might go about getting a new phone even though my contract isn't up for another year. After explaining that the only reason I ended my contract early was due to defective phones, the service rep for Sprint made every effort to figure out a loophole for me to get the new phone with minimal expense.

After getting some good tips on Twitter about being a premier customer with Sprint (apparently I am one), I called back and learned that I would be able to get my new phone a year early. Thanks to two very helpful customer service reps at Sprint who got creative about helping me the best they could with the tools they have!

Example #3:
Last week I attempted to refill a prescription online through CVS' new interface. I received a message that it was too soon to refill my prescription. Well, of course this wasn't true and I had the nearly empty container to show for it.

I got on the phone with CVS and it turns out that, even though this prescription had been filled properly for several years, it must have been entered incorrectly with the last refill request from my doctor. The person on the phone immediately resolved the issue by contacting my doctor's office to get the error fixed, and my prescription was filled on time.

This young man not only understood where the error had come from, but didn't waste any time questioning me or arguing with me about my own prescription. He jumped right in and fixed it. Completely painless on my part.

On a side note: Remember that customer service representatives are people, too! My mom is one of the nicest, most generous people you'll meet, and she would never in a million years be rude or nasty on the phone. Last week, she spoke to someone who really upset her, and she's been doing this a long time, so I know the person must have been really bad. In my mom's words:

"Just spoke with a very unkind lady.....please remember when you are speaking with somebody in customer service remember that they are people too, and, that they are not magicians who can just do anything you want them to do. 99% of the customer service reps you deal with are trying hard to serve you and it really ruins a perfectly fine day and makes it difficult to stay calm when the next call comes in."

And this:

"Another day, starting off hopeful and enthusiastic. I pray that I can keep my cool and be compassionate to all my callers, off the wall or not."

Please share your GOOD customer service stories in the comments!

Bonus: One more! Having my 75,000 mile service on my car a few months ago, I received an estimate and had them go ahead and do what needed to be done. During the work, my battery died. Instead of revising the estimate and having me pay more, they kept the estimate the same and added the battery for free!


Mother and son football Sunday

While out at the track practicing discus on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed a woman and her pre-teen son at the other end of the track. As Bub and I got closer, we discovered that she was teaching the boy how to kick a football.

I've never seen a mom practicing football with her son, and I wonder if I'll ever see it again!


One blue flower

Walking along the meadow at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, I noticed this little blue guy sprouting up amidst a sea of yellow. Pretty!


Best wedding dances ever

If you haven't seen this yet, please enjoy one of my favorite wedding videos ever. I laughed so hard I cried. What a way to start a new life together.

And if you're so inclined, make a donation to domestic violence prevention at their website.

And while we're at it, here's another of my favorite wedding videos, based on one of my favorite movie dance scenes.

If you want to idle away the time on YouTube, just search for "Dirty Dancing wedding" and you'll find a whole bunch of these! I believe this was the first, though, and still my favorite.


Falconer neighbor

As I drove home one afternoon, I passed a man walking down my street with a beautiful falcon on his arm. I can't imagine where he was coming from or where he was going in our neighborhood. Fascinating!

Photo by Fons Reijsbergen