Thursday, February 23, 2017

In Which She Reams Out a Fedex Employee

Editor’s note: this post has been sitting here for a couple of weeks, but I was too lazy to finish/edit it. I am now renaming it Part 1 and adding a happy ending in Part II.

At the end of my penultimate post I commented that I hoped I could find a passport photo a little more attractive than the last one. Didn’t work out that way.

I hadn’t actually got around to doing anything about renewing my passport, so I thought I needed to do some research and after entering various applicable terms into Google I came up with the official website. It informed me I had to fill out the form online, but as it was obvious I couldn’t actually apply on line because I had to send some new photographs, I thought I would push the "get started" button to figure out what was involved. But pretty soon I realized that I was actually filling out the form and I finally got to a place where I could “exit and save” and my data would remain for 72 hours. I didn’t want to give my Visa number at that stage, because I wasn’t sure whether they would void the payment if I didn’t print the form within 72 hours, or if they would pocket the cash and use it for their own nefarious purposes.

So I turned my attention to the photo and realized I didn’t know where I could get one taken these days. A few minutes with the phone and finally someone said, “Try FedEx.”

We went off to the FedEx store and a girl with a big camera couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the shadow. (It involved closing the window shade.) She disappeared for a few minutes and a guy took her place. Eric? I nervously asked if the photo would come out to the required dimensions. "Aren’t all passport photos the same size?" asked Eric, who proceeded to point the large camera at me and click. It wasn’t a bad photograph. He wandered off to the area where the photos are processed and came back with a 2x2 inch photo. I had been smart enough to print off the five pages of instructions about the photo as provided by Her Majesty’s Government, and I told him it wouldn’t do. "It is the only size I can print it, “ replied Eric. Me: "You mean to say that this nation wide business enterprise cannot help any one who wants a photo other than than one corresponding to the American specifications?” This all went on for a while and Eric’s best contribution was the remark that there used to be a photo studio down the street, but it had now closed down, followed by the mumbled acknowledgement that the drug store across the parking lot “might” be able to help me.

Walgreens to the rescue: a very friendly man with a tiny camera, took my photograph, then put it in a machine with a list at the side of various countries, pushed UK and within five minutes I had my photograph. I was still so mad from my dealings with Eric that I looked like an ancient bad tempered crone, but I had my photograph!

Part II: to be retitled “In which her Majesty’s Government does an awesome job.”

I hadn’t even attempted to track my package of documents winging its way from Detroit to Durham. Give it time. And then two days ago we came home and took ownership of two big yellow envelopes which my neighbor had signed for. One contained my old cancelled passport and one my new passport. The birds which graced the pages of my last passport have been replaced by a series of designs which I decided to call “Merrie Olde England”, but if you have nothing else to do you can admire the art work here.

Thanks for your offer of help, Tim. I am all set. Well done, your Majesty’s Home Office.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Another Teenager

Today Eleanor becomes thirteen. And just to keep the family oral tradition alive, I must report that when she was born (so it is said) neighbors cried. Nothing against Eleanor, but because everyone was so relieved to see a little girl after three boys. As you can see, Eleanor isn’t one for pink bows and frilly dresses—she’s more interested in soccer cleats, but it’s the principle of the thing! She excels at Math and inherited much of her parents’ musical accomplishments.

So today is turning out to be a good one. My breakfast oatmeal was cooked by the family sous chef, we went out to lunch while running tedious errands and we will be dinner guests tonight at Kate and Ron’s to celebrate Eleanor. My favorite kind of day!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

There’s Something to be said for being an Insomniac

Most nights I sleep well, but there are times when I can’t get off to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night or both. I try not to let it concern me too much: I do not have to work any more and most days I take a restorative afternoon nap anyway. And as I lie in vacant or in pensive mood, my inward eye sees, not daffodils, but remembrances, thoughts, concerns and way too often, worries.

A couple of weeks ago, for no good reason whatsoever—it was before last week’s news hit—the word “Passport” came to mind. Next day I checked, and although my passport expires in March, not February as I had somehow thought, I had better get moving. I had scanned the inside of my passport, but as I wrote this I had a thought and looked at the outside which is emblazoned with gold print “European Union, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” What is going to happen here? What will my new one say? I wrote about the whole performance ten years ago. I have not yet checked, but I bet the cost has gone up. Considerably. (I do not have to renew my “green card” until next year, but that will be a whole new story.)

Will I embark on any foreign travel? I don’t know because in spite of the surgery which seems to have cured me, at least for the time being, from painful attacks, I know there is the constant chance of a recurring flare. Maybe I will take my neurosurgeon’s advice and carry in my wallet an explanatory note.

I found this rather technicolored one, but the idea of wandering around Heathrow waving a sheet of paper like a twenty-first century leper with a bell does not appeal to me. Besides, the real problem would be getting medical attention.

Still, one thing at a time. Let’s see if I can find a passport photo a little more attractive than the last.