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Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Mayan Apocalypse – asmockolypse!! Welcome to the  New b’ak’tun baby – or as I shall humbly refer to it, the New Year 2013!!

Day One: 364 to go!

Day One Down: 364 to go!

With 2012 now just another old calendar heading for the recycling bin and 2013 12-new pages of various images to look forward to, I look both back and forward on this the first day of the new year.

Blooming Primrose Welcome In 2013

Blooming Primrose Welcome In 2013

2012 was a pretty good year overall – my job is great and I love what I do! I was given the gift of being able to provide a home to a wonderful 8-year old cat and we have bridged the early challenges of her new living situation. When I moved to my apartment here in the Adam’s Point neighborhood of Oakland, CA, I was wholly not confident of my ability to make it on my own. It seems that I have always had someone to help me make it – for many, many years that person was my ex-wife, she would manage the books and ensure that we were making it from month-to-month. After the divorce, I spiraled out and ended up taking a 3-year State sponsored vacation thanks to my inability to do the right thing. When I came home, I quickly found another partner and after 2-years – nearly one of living together – it became apparent that it was not the right time for us to be together, hence the move to my apartment. I had no idea how to manage a budget of my own – I can balance a large Corporation’s departmental budget to the penny for years with ease; however, my personal philosophy on life and my own finances had always been something along the lines of: “What do you mean I’m broke? I still have checks left!”.

New growth welcomes the New Year

New growth welcomes the New Year

Well, it has been 2-years now that I have been on my own and I must say that I have surprised myself in my ability to manage just fine. Deep down, I knew that I could; however, it was always easier not having to and the easy path has been an M.O. of mine for a long, long time. I guess I needed to finally take the proverbial “left turn at Albuquerque” and manage it on my own, if for nothing more than to prove to myself that I could. Now; at the start of a new year, I am for the first time in a long time not worried about the next step – I have the right gear within me for any hike, so now, I just get the enjoy the journey!!

Bright and Happy Things Are Upon Us!!

Bright and Happy Things Are Upon Us!!

So, what’s in store for 2013? You know, I really don’t know and I am not going to worry about it or plan too deeply either. I have learned that often the best vacation or road-trips that I have taken were those that were not rigidly structured, the itineraries and paths were made between the destinations. I have a great job, I have a handful of great friends, and usually a couple of cold beers in the fridge – what more could I really need?

The kale are still adjusting to the New Year

The kale are still adjusting to the New Year

So friends, welcome to 2013 – another 365-days to explore everything and nothing at the same time – it should be a fun adventure, can’t wait to share it with you all!!

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~Noah

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The primrose have re-bloomed!

The primrose have re-bloomed!

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful winter solstice seasonal celebration in whatever manner is significant to yourself!! I am sorry that I have not been super active lately, this can explained on two fronts:

1. I work in non-profit / development, and end of year fundraising just kicks the living shyte out of any free-time one could possibly hope to have

2. The garden has just not been doing anything super interesting lately!!

Soggy (but happy) plants!!

Soggy (but happy) plants!!

As you may be able to tell from the above images, it has been raining like no-ones business out here in Northern California lately, which I am sure the patio plants are enjoying immensely!

My Christmas Tree w/ natures ornaments

My Christmas Tree w/ natures ornaments

I also recently discovered that it has been 2-years since I began writing this little online journal of life as told through a patio garden in Oakland, CA.

Happy Blog Birthday!

Happy Blog Birthday!

A lot changes in 2-years; however, much remains the same within those 2-years –  I have had the same job, working for the same kick-ass organization and I have had the same lovely garden apartment for the last 2-years. I have been very fortunate to have handful of wonderful friends that have been constant for those 2-years! Of the things which change, there is of course the love of my life, my wonderful kitten, Ms. Gretchen and the sadness in the dogs that I have lost over the past 2-years: Krychek, Dana, Sckrych, Piper, Queequeq, and Odin – you are all loved and missed.

New Growth for the New Year!

New Growth for the New Year!

I am now looking into 2013 and for once, actually looking forward to the year that is coming, so friends, break out the champagne (or seltzer water if you are so inclined) and let’s welcome the new year in style – one hand in the dirt, the other reaching for a better world for every living creature on this big blue marble we are flying through space upon!!

The Garden at year's end

The Garden at year’s end

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

The jungle!

The jungle!

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!!

~and~

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!!

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Historically, Thanksgiving for the Froio Clan was just an excuse to get together, grub on some reasonably overcooked factory farmed poultry, and sit around and bitch about whatever there was to bitch about. All in good family fun that I am sure most of my readers find hauntingly familiar!

However; today, Thanksgiving Day is more, to me, about how I am slowly becoming less of a problem to the world. I now look at Thanksgiving from the point of someone who is starting to learn that equality is not a term which should be confined to human terms, and that those factory farmed birds which I used to relish in devouring every November, also had feelings and caring souls. If you don’t believe this, watch PBS’s Nature series, there is an episode titled “My Life as a Turkey” and then you might realize that the impression you held of the traditional bird, is not likely to meet the expectations that your upbringing placed inside you.

Is this a post about turkeys?

No, it’s about what (or maybe more specifically, who) I am thankful for:

Those who continue to touch my soul – the non-humans:

  • My darling cat: Ms. Gretchen
  • My babies who still bless this Big Blue Marble with their presence: Scully, Neo, and Bob

Then there are the two humans who have stuck by my side regardless of the madness, savagery, and discord my existence has wrought upon their otherwise normal world:

  • Susan – my ex-wife of 16-years, my first deep, ridiculous, overwhelming love
  • Laurie – my ex-girlfriend, who over the course of 4-years (2 as my girl/2 as my estranged ex) has stayed a constant in my bewildering tale of life

So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I want to be thankful of those who have continued with me, as they know that I am more than the sum of my previous actions, and that I have a potential, which I often hide, but which they have seen and are there to pull out of me – at any and all costs.
I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving Family!!

~Noah

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So, this post has not one iota’s worth of gardening content. This is a story that will be recounted in a series of email threads that I have recently been engaged in with Comcast Cable (xfinity cable). I am sure that anyone who uses their service may be able to relate portions of the story to their own experiences (if Yelp! reviews are any indication). Please allow me to set the stage with a bit of the back story first:

December 2010: I am moving from cohabitation with the ex-girlfriend to my current place in Oakland, CA. I call Comcast to have the cable service moved to the new address. The customer service rep tells me that if I sign-up for a 2-year contract that they will give me a $100.00 Visa gift card. As Comcast is kind of a monopoly in the Bay Area, and I would likely be using their service for as long as I plan on watching TV, it seemed like a great idea, so I said sure, sign me up.

February 2011: Having still not received my gift card, I begin the process of contacting Comcast about when I should expect the gift card.

April 2011: Still no card; however, I have had a couple of reps advise that the card should be its way. I was even given a website for the card issuer to track my cards status.

May 2011: Still no card. I call Comcast again, and now the story has changed. Now, I am being told that my service does not qualify for the card and that I will no longer receive the promised gift card. Needless to say, this was troubling news. So, for the next 15-months, I begin to gather all of my notes and saved email communications, names, dates, times, etc.

The first email

The following information was submitted from the Comcast Web site:
Re: Web Form Submission: General Inquiry/Other

Name: Noah F.
City: Oakland
State: CA

Problem: General Inquiry/Other

Comments:
I was advised that a promise that was made to me by your organization,
and conditional to my signing up for the service I currently have, will
not be honored.

I am sorry, but this is not acceptable. This email needs to go to
someone who can actually make decisions at Comcast.

Here is what you owe me:
1. $100.00 for sign-up of service
2. Time and Frustration dealing with your organization

Total Cost: The amount due on my account.

Period.

Noah Froio

—————————————————————————————
From: “Comcast Ecare Central California” <vidsupport_ccal@cable.comcast.com>
To: “Noah F” <email@comcast.net>
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2011 9:05:52 AM
Subject: Re: Web Form Submission: General Inquiry/Other  (KMM6244609V66720L0KM)

Dear Mr. Froio,

Thank you for being a valued Comcast Customer! I appreciate your
response and thank you for getting back to us.

We regret that the quality of service you received recently did not
reflect the quality we strive for and appreciate your taking the time to
let us know of your experience. I apologize for any distress that this
may have caused. Please be assured that customer satisfaction is very
important to us.

Your feedback is appreciated. Information such as this is relayed to the
appropriate department to determine how this matter could have been
handled differently.

Online Customer Care Specialists communicate solely through electronic
communications. If you would like to speak with a supervisor who can
directly assist you with the matter, please contact our customer service
center at 1-800 Xfinity (934-6489) and ask to speak with a supervisor.

We appreciate you sharing your concerns as we continue to strive for
complete customer satisfaction. We value your business and have a great
day, Mr. Froio.

Thank you for choosing Comcast.

Sincerely,

Raymond G
Comcast Customer Care Specialist
**************************************************
The response contained in this message is intended for the addressee
only and may vary from other responses depending on geography,
promotional campaigns or other factors. If you are not the intended
recipient of this response, please delete this message. Any unauthorized
use or dissemination of the information contained in this message is
prohibited.
**************************************************
Then, nothing….. roll the clock forward to August 2012:

The 2nd, slightly more demanding email

The following information was submitted from the Comcast Web site

Two Issues:
1. I have still never received the $100 gift card I was promised when I
setup my account almost 2-years – which I have kept meticulous records
of my contacts with your company. Please advise how you are going to
resolve this (As I do have a written statement taken from a screen
capture of our online help desk service verifying that I am entitled as
well as a letter from your company to this effects.

2. I would like someone to look into the deceptive business practices of
your online bill payment’s account of when a payment is due and the
statement date of when the same amount is due – again, I have meticulous
copies of these discrepancies and find it hard to believe that the
online says a bill is due on 8/7/2012, when the printed bill clearly
states the amount is due on 8/29/12. I would like a sufficient answer on
this, or I will let the California State Attorney General’s Office of
Business Standards and Practices review my records.

Please respond in writing, I have no desire to speak to any of your
staff. Thank you.

The response (obviously an automated response):

From: “Comcast ECARE” <ecare@comcast.com>
To: “Noah F.” <email@comcast.net>
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2012 7:06:30 AM
Subject: Re: Comments for Rick Germano  (KMM15581656V17172L0KM)

Dear Mr. Froio,

I would like to thank you for contacting the Office of Rick Germano  
where our customers come first.  My name is Susan .  I want you to know
that we are committed to providing you with excellent customer service.
I am genuinely sorry for the issue with  your not receiving the rebate
card and the online billing statements.  I  regret the inconvenience and
disappointment this experience has caused you. I can understand your
frustrations.  You have reached the right person in the right
department. I can definitely address your concern with our Comcast
customer service using every resource available to me, to get this issue
resolved.

I understand you have not  received your  $100 gift card. that you were
promised when you  set up the account 2 years ago. You have  records of
contact with us and would  like to get a resolution as you have a  
written statement from the online help desk confirming he is entitled to
it and also a letter verifying this.  I am more than happy to escalate
this matter for further research.  Since is was from Early 2011,
research is required to make sure you have met the requirements such as
signing an agreement and not being past due on your account.  This
process usually takes 24-72 hours. Once we get an answer we will contact
you by phone.  If we are unable to reach you by phone, we will send you
an email reply.

I would like to also thank you for your feedback about the  online
billing statements. I understand you would like  someone to look into
business practices of the online bill pay accounts of when a payment is
due and the statement date of when the same amount is due . The online
bill says the payment is due on 8/7 and the printed statement says  
8/29.

I have reviewed your account:
 
 8/07/12 – was the day the statement printed.-listed as billing date on
the statement  8/29/12 is the day the current balance is due.

This statement has a past due balance on $213.01 that was due on  
7/29/12.   This would mean that that statements print on the 7th of the
month and the balance is due on the 29th of the month.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to call us
at 1-800-Comcast (1-800-266-2278), or you may contact us again via
e-mail.  Our team is always at your service here at the Office of Rick
Germano. You also have the option to select live chat at
https://www.comcastsupport.com/chatentry.Our Comcast Customer Guarantee provides these contact points any time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.   I know that your time is valuable, so, thank you
again for contacting me here at Comcast. I am truly sorry for any
inconvenience you may have experienced with our customer service when
inquiring about your gift card and online billing statement.   I want to thank you for allowing me to examine your concern with our Comcast customer service and I want to assure you that your Comcast Executive Support Line will contact you with a resolution to all your concerns addressed in your email.   Our Comcast Customer Guarantee is the promise to provide a superior customer experience every day. This is a reflection of my confidence in our products and services, our network and especially my fellow employees. Your taking the time to send this email  helps me keep my commitment to quality customer care.

Sincerely,

Susan
Office of Rick Germano

The escalation of the issue

From: , Leilani mafi
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2012 8:48 AM
To: ’email@comcast.net’
Subject: COMCAST ESL00690730

Dear Ms. Froio,

Thank you for contacting our Executive office with your questions and concerns. We have reviewed your acct and we would like the opportunity to speak with you to resolve your concern as soon as we can.  Please contact us at 1-800-884-3642 at your earliest convenience.

Kind Regards,

Leilani

Executive Customer Relations

California Regional Office

1-800-884-xxxx ext 240845

————————————————————————————————–

From: “Leilani mafi ” <Leilanimafi_@cable.comcast.com>
To: email@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, September 6, 2012 9:26:59 AM
Subject: RE: COMCAST ESL00690730

Dear Mr. Froio,

I apologize we missed your call.  According to our findings, you did not meet our agreement acceptance eligibility which is our customers must accept the terms and agreement for the $100 rebate card within 30 days from date of install 1/11/2011.  In the agreement portal it show that the agreement was not accepted or completed until 06/03/11.

As far as your concern about your statement due date.  Can you please reply back with the screen shot of your website statement regarding this matter if possible, so I can further help you.  Meantime, our record implemented that we send out your bill on the 7th of every month and its due date is on the 29th of each month.

Thank you,

Leilani

 OK, So, here is where I have had just about enough of their BS

From: email@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2012 4:33 PM
To: , Leilani mafi
Cc: email1@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: COMCAST ESL00690730

Hello Leilani,

For your first point; whether or not I met the eligibility for the offer is absolutely irrelevant when a member of your company promised that should I sign up for a 2-year contract that I would receive a $100.00 gift card. Your company’s lack of training in no way invalidates the fact that a representative from your company made an offer in exchange for contract signing that I would have NEVER agreed to without the BAIT offered.

Your company, Comcast Cable (regardless of the representative), made me a verbal contract and have reiterated in writing that the contract was made, the fact that your employee was improperly trained has no bearing on the validity of the verbal contract. I am willing to bet that a court of law would uphold this contract and be willing to add punitive damages and compensatory damages for the time and energy expended in seeking what is owed to me.

If I should file a lawsuit, please do let me know.

For your second point; please find the attached screen shot of the differing dates listed on your website and on your physical bill. Note that the dollar amount is exactly the same and they both CLEARLY state DUE not Bill Date.

Both of these facts together are enough to show a court of law that your company’s business practices are suspect at best. All that I ask is that I get what is promised to me, if you cannot do that much, within 30-business days, please understand that I will have to take this to court for remedy.

I am also hereby requesting an investigation into my billing to ensure accurate billing has been done by Comcast. I will hold payment until Comcast can satisfactorily establish beyond a reasonable doubt that I have not been overcharged or cheated.

I have in the past found 3- discrepancies (each valued at $75.00).

Thank you,

Noah F.

——————————————————————————-

Here is where Comcast bumped it up to their Legal Dept.


From: “Cynthia ” <Cynthia_@cable.comcast.com>
To: email@comcast.net
Cc: “Leilani mafi ” <Leilanimafi_@cable.comcast.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 1:13:33 PM
Subject: RE: JUST FOR YOU..PLEASE HELP -COMCAST ESL00690730
Mr. Forio,

Your issue has been brought to my attention by your case manager.  With regards to your first point as a customer first gesture I will credit the $100 to your account. If this is agreeable please respond to this email.  With regards to your second point – due to the nature of your account the dates although accurate take time to update online as opposed to in our internal billing data base.  I am sure that the account reflects a different due date above the amount due after your payment for $xxx.xx cleared online. Can you send me a screen print of what it reflects today?  If there is a problem then I’m happy to investigate if further but we do not have access to your online account details just our internal billing database.  With regards to your third and final point I would like to assure you there are not discrepancies we have been made aware of to my knowledge.  If you can elaborate on the details of the 3 discrepancies totaling $75.00; I’d be happy to research.  In the meantime I am recommending you make all of your payments to avoid any interruptions.  Call me if you have any questions.

Respectfully,

Cynthia

Executive Customer Relations

Legal Analyst

California Regional Office

(800) 884-xxxx Ext 322325 Office

(925) 206-xxxx Mobile

(925) 424-xxxx Fax


Final Resolution:

From: “Cynthia ” <Cynthia_@cable.comcast.com>
To: email@comcast.net
Cc: email1@yahoo.com, “Leilani mafi ” <Leilanimafi_@cable.comcast.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 4:06:33 PM
Subject: RE: JUST FOR YOU..PLEASE HELP -COMCAST ESL00690730

Mr. Froio,

My sincere apologies for spelling your last name incorrectly.  I have answered in <<bold>> below to the specifics.

Regards,

Cynthia Garcia

Executive Customer Relations

California Region

From: email@comcast.net [mailto:email@comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 3:18 PM
To: , Cynthia
Cc: email1@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: JUST FOR YOU..PLEASE HELP -COMCAST ESL00690730

Hello Cynthia,

Thank you for your email and thank you for being the first person at Comcast who actually seems to have an iotas worth of customer service sense left in them. Yes, I am wholly agreeable to considering the matter of the promised gift card closed with the $100.00 credit to my account.

Credit applied in the amount of $100.00 in lieu of the gift card offer.

For the 2nd item, I usually pay by the date that the hard copy paper statement shows; however, as I have not been receiving them consistently (I have advised your CSR’s of this fact on at least 3 occasions), I am not always prompted into paying until I get a call from one of the CSR’s. The reason I never switched to eBilling is that I need the paper to remind me. As long as Comcast can ensure that I am mailed a paper statement each month with time to review / audit the statement and work the payment into my monthly budget, we can drop this issue.

I am unable to promise mailing since we have no control over the USP and unexpected delays due to holidays etc which I’m sure you understand. What I can do is make myself available to provide you a pdf statement upon request via email at anytime you request.
For the 3rd item, the discrepancies were early on in my new two-year agreement (when I moved to my current residence of 301 Jayne Ave) – I noticed (thanks to the paper statement that I audit monthly) that I was being charged for non-return of merchandise that I was still using – at a rate of $75.00/month. It took me a long time to prove that I was right and that Comcast was errant in their charges, so, you may understand why I like paper statements and why I also feel the need for an occasional audit is called for.

This has been resolved correct?

Lastly, for the current amount due on account, my balance as of today is reflecting $xxx.xx (less the $100.00 you will be crediting to my account today?), the actual balance should be $xxx.xx. I would prefer to wait until I can verify the credit, but will pay the $xxx.xx regardless on my next payday, which is September 20. The current amount is 5-days past due; however, I would ask that as a gesture of customer service for the over a year and half that I spent on the above issues to get them resolved, that Comcast extend the due date to September 20.

Added promise to pay on or before 9/24/12. Let me know if you need more time.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. Cynthia J

Thank you Cynthia for you response and your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Noah A. F.

PS: My last name is spelled FXXXX – the devil is in the details, but, a big part to customer service is getting the customers name correct. 🙂 Thanks.

———————————————————————————

So, friends, the moral of the story?

Never give up!!

Even though you may be just one person against a monopoly, as long as you stick to your guns, demand what is yours, and are persistent, you can make things happen.

This works across the boards; from Corporations to Governments – remember – you don’t have to settle, be strong, be fair, and be persistent – the end may just surprise you.

Will be back with more gardening news later…
~Noah

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Reader’s note: This post is completely off-topic & has no gardening content other than images. I will be back with updates from my patio garden after this ~ since you’re here, please read & feel free to comment if you’re so moved. Thanks, Noah

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This is not the wall, don't get excited

You Know that Wall?

(‘What wall?’ You probably asked yourself right about now, yes?)

I am glad that you asked. The wall which I will be writing about is a type of wall that even the least skilled mason can construct with relative ease.

Such walls, most built without even a rudimentary understanding of construction basics on the builders part, are built everyday, everywhere, by just about everyone. Even with the utter lack of wall building acumen involved in their construction, most of these walls are surprisingly resilient and difficult to break down (I’m talking Fort Knox strong).

No, this is definitely not the wall

So, You Know that Wall, right?

Yes, you do. Each of us, at various times in our individual journeys have knowingly, or unknowingly, been through a journeyman apprenticeship program in the construction of these walls. It’s our wall, we are the wall, each of us builds our wall according to our needs at the time of the first brick laying.

Most walls are in a constant state of flux. Constantly being fortified. Perimeter sweeps are performed with precision and regularity. It would take Seal Team 6 & Chuck Norris to get thorough some of these walls (take that Hadrian!).

Yes, that’s the one, that wall.

Getting closer, but no, not the wall

Good, You Know that Wall.

Now that we are all reading from the same page, in the same chapter, in the same book, during the same class, at the same school, in the same town, let’s take a closer look at a couple of walls.

The following sentiments are those experienced by writer ~ the reader is likely to have a completely dissimilar experience

The whisper grew

My main wall is an old wall, the first bricks of the old wall were laid when I was around age six or seven following my parent’s bitter divorce. Now, at age 43, it is evident that I have been building on the base foundations for a decent amount of time.

I laid my first bricks on a foundation of broken trust and a wall rose from there. The trust wall grew larger and new walls were added.

Another important (at least to me) wall was built upon a foundation of pure cynicism, the foundation was solid and this wall too began its accent.

Both the cynicism wall and the trust wall seemed impenetrable to me. I searched often and weak links were rarely ever found. I was safe. My walls were strong. Hardened from years in a suffocating corporate environment and the seemingly never-ending assortment of random people who drifted in and out of my little town (MyLife, CA).

For the next 30+ years, these walls remained close and trusted friends (a word that has meant many different things to me at different times in my life).

My walls were, for much of my life, my only real constant. They did not leave when times got tough, they did not judge, they did not ask for anything, and they did not die, they just were.

A brick landed here

A strange thing happened recently

I noticed that bricks have been coming loose with a regularity that is quite noticeable. A brick landing here and another landing there. Why strange? Because I am not putting them back in the walls from which they fall anymore.

Lately, it has become evident that both the mass and scale of my personal walls no longer match the sentimental value I assigned them, nor do they warrant the high place of importance they once held in my life. They are unkempt. They are a mess.

The is not the wall - this is stronger than any wall - this is Change

I stumbled upon a video the other day over at wimp.com.

The video’s presenter, Mr. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, who is apparently a yogi (no, not the bear and not the baseball player, either), was selling a large-scale, life enrichment package. I am not currently in the market for such a product; however, I did pick-up the following trinket from the gift shop as I was exiting.

I will paraphrase as best I can:

(you can watch the video here if you are so inclined)

He speaks of the unrealistic perception of life many people hold on to, and that this view of life is often the basis of many of our fears. Adding that our general unwillingness to live and to die without trying to manipulate the outcome, keeps us from living our actual lives.

He illustrates his hypothesis with the observation that many of us obsess about the future, always wondering what is going to happen next. We look to our past, building on our fears of what is/or isn’t going to happen next, wondering if we did that, would this outcome be different.

We then turn these fears of our future into barriers (walls, if you will) to living in the present. He concludes with the fact that most of our fears are about things that have not happened yet; they may happen, they may not happen, but in the present reality of today, they simply do not actually exist.

soon, it was much louder

His point: (at least what I took from it)

The things many of us fear in our everyday lives, in all reality, exist only in our minds.

This conclusion caught me a bit off-guard. Realizing that much of what we all worry about, fear, or otherwise  occupy our present with, are no more real than the   ‘boogie man’ or ‘Government Intelligence’.

My fears existed in a distant past, my cynicism rooted  itself long ago when I was someone who I am not today. I spent a lot of time worried about the fears of my past reappearing in my near-future, causing me to completely miss the opportunity to experience the wonder of today.

Last Wednesday, my belief in human kindness and goodness was given a much-needed booster shot with a Random Act of… honesty, integrity, and kindness. It was a simple act and by no means extraordinary; however, it showed me that good people are still raising good children and that good still exists out there.

There will be no pictures of walls today

The world is not doomed, there is hope, we can make it better - together

What is the picture about? That is my cell phone. I lost the phone while on a hike in a public park last Sunday. On Wednesday, I received the phone in the mail. It was returned by a family that knows right from wrong . The family’s 8-year old grandson found my phone and took it to his grandparents, who checked the phone for a contact number of the owner. They saw a text from my friends, which was sent earlier in the day, asking that whoever finds the phone please call them. They called. Hence the picture.

My cynicism lived deep within me and echoed loudly that people were generally uncaring and that the world was on a crash course for self-destruction. Why would I want to do anything to slow the inevitable?

Let’s just get it over with already.

   A picture of a duck and a news story told me why I must do something

My trust issues were born from the problems of others. Yet, it was me, who chose to adopt them and raise them as my own. Over time, I convinced myself that honesty is simply a tool that the masses use to get what they want – merely an ulterior motive, if you will.

A carefully package box arrived in the mail last Wednesday, with a lovely card (which now sits proudly at my desk), and my cell phone. There were no expectations or hopes of financial gain included in the package – I checked.

A United States Postal Service box told me that honesty and good still exist

Thank you family from Sacramento, CA - I love the card!

Now, it is late in the day and I have rambled enough, tomorrow is tomorrow, yesterday was yesterday and today, today I gave my hock and trowel back. I never really liked masonry anyway, I am going back to the garden to tend to my plants.

and... there you have it!

Thank you for reading this post – please feel free take from it what you will (all, some, or none).

HTTP 404 – see you in garden, Friends.

~ Noah

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I could have sworn that it was just new year only a couple of weeks back – apparently another week and a half was able get past perimeter security without my notice – oh well, 2012 has been good thus far, so, keep it coming!

Mr. Big Boy avocado and friends

We finally got some decent rain and then some brilliant sunshine, which is just what my garden was looking for. Specifically, the weather has been signaling to my primroses that flower producing time is back upon us. Being obedient, wonderful children, they listened to Mother Nature’s suggestion and all of the plants have recently perked right up and are now producing lots of wonderfully brilliant flowers.

Primrose in vibrant blue

Yellow primroses spring to greet the sun

A primrose profusion of blue blooms

I mentioned in my last post that I was in search of something to add just a bit of ‘pop‘ – a splash of color – to brighten up the drab winter garden palette of muted greens. I selected a variety of annual color 6-packs which were in abundance at my local Ace Garden Center in Oakland.

The selection of colors was larger than I expected for what is the theoretical ‘middle of winter’. The winners of the big select-o-rama were violas and pansies. The color choices in just these two flower types was huge and I ending up going with a wide mix of blues, oranges, yellows, and whites. (yep, a little of everything just in case)

Hello! Ms. Viola welcomes you

Some of Ms. Viola’s friends would also like to say hello:

What color!! Amazed these are from the same plant!

A little field of happiness

The garden is not just flowers, mind you, I have a new addition to my menagerie of flora. One of my wonderful colleagues gave me a bunch of wild ginger root which was starting its take-over of her yard. She said that although this form of ginger is culinarily useless, that it does produce lovely white flowers. If the plant is shade resistant then it was take the place of the hydrangea which I planted last season and which do not appear to be doing well at all.

Ginger Root taking hold and growing her first real foliage

Through the bamboo, Ms. Lilly makes her return

Finally today – I will leave you with my friend Mr. Rustic Orange coleus…

coleus v. rustic orange

As soon as I get the new violas and pansies planted in their final destinations, I will be sure to add a new update. I am hoping that the extremely mild winter season we have been experiencing will continue to be a boon for my patio flowers. You know, it really is the little things in life that help make it as great as it is. ♥

Hope that you all are well and your gardens are great!!

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