The Prize Patrol

It started innocently enough.  I got a fat envelope in the mail sometime in November from Publishers Clearing House so I opened it.  What the heck I thought, I’ll just fill out the entry form and forget it.  Once I waded through all the promotions and found the correct stamps to put on the form which wasn’t easy, I entered.  I stuck it in the mail the next day and that was that.  Or so I thought.  This is not your Publishers Clearing House of old.  A few days later it started.

It started with one email:  Stephanie!  Just One More Step To Complete!   Really?  I thought my entry was complete. So I opened the email and looked at the four pages of promotions. You don’t get to submit your entry until you’ve gone through all four pages. In tiny print it says a purchase does not enhance your chances of winning.  That’s good I thought.  I’m done.  All I have to do is wait until February 23 to see if I win anything.  I did not know how PCH in today’s world works.  I was about to find out.

That one email turned into two a day, then three and then four.  They are marketing geniuses at PHC.  The more I opened them and went through their promotions and their searches, the more tokens I accumulated and the more chances I had to win.  Then I got in deeper and deeper, once you’ve gotten all these tokens, you can’t quit now!  I know they have a tiny room at PHC where they’ve locked in psychologists and sprinkled in a few con men or women to figure out how to prey on the vulnerable shlubs who actually open their emails.

I complained to my husband about how every single day I had just One More Step to Complete! or I was in danger of losing it all.  I dreaded going to my email, I was depressed.  Why wouldn’t they leave me alone?  Tom said I was an idiot and how could I have fallen for this in the first place?  “Just stop” he said.  He added “I have as much chance of winning as you do and I haven’t entered.”  Did he realize what he was saying?  I had hundreds of thousands of tokens, how could I just stop?!  What if I won?  My brother-in-law told me to just unsubscribe.

“You didn’t actually buy anything did you?” he asked?  “Of course not!” I replied indiginantly.  “I’m not a complete moron.” But PCH has that covered too.  If you reach the end of their offers without buying anything they start feeding on your guilt. It’s like the homeless guy with the on the street corner with the sign  “Homeless vet desperate to feed his family, will do anything.  God Bless.”  I think they hired a few of them to lock in the room with the psychologists and con artists.

“Stephanie, your cart is empty.  Won’t you please reconsider.  Just one purchase could get you to super VIP status.”  Really?  Super VIP status?  That’s got to be good, right?   I couldn’t wait until February 23.  I wanted the emails to stop!

Here I am in my car cleaning the dashboard with the very clever dust block I bought.  I even got another one thrown in for free so we have one for each car.  Then I got a magazine subscription to a magazine I was thinking about subscribing to anyway.  The last thing I bought and I can hardly wait until it gets here is a mesh laundry bag to put your dirty tennis shoes in.  Now here’s the genius part.  It has straps on the back to hang on your dryer door so you don’t have to send the shoes through the dryer.  Really clever!

The big day came.  The PCH email said the truck was on it’s way, you could follow it like you can follow when a package will arrive.  Would it stop in Portland?  the email said.  Geez, you just never know.  I stayed home.  A friend called and I told her if I hung up on her it was because The Prize Patrol was at my front door.  “What?” she laughed.

No one knocked at my door that day.  Deep down I knew that and was relieved that I wouldn’t be thrown into a higher tax bracket and that now those emails would finally stop.

Several days later the emails have not stopped.  Now they are awarding prizes through March 3.  Don’t Lose Out!  You are now a VIP as you’ve been so loyal.

Huge Prize Guaranteed For Award!
Trouble viewing this email? | Please add us to your Contacts
Info You Need — Prizes You Want
Act Now, Stephanie!
We’re Guaranteed To Deliver The
$4,978,632.OO SuperPrize
To A March 3rd Winner!
Take The Final Step!
Stephanie, take the final step for TWO Entries to win from this notice, ACT NOW!
This Itinerary can be used if you are selected as the March 3rd Winner
Coordinate with Katu-tv to provide coverage for winning moment
Stop at Chevron to fill up the Prize Patrol van in preparation for prize delivery
Pick up flowers from Happy Baskets in Portland
Drive to Serleth residence  to deliver the “Big Check” should you win!
Stephanie Serleth, take the FINAL STEP! Enter promptly, and a $4,978,632.OO SuperPrize could be in your hands before you know it!

Now that you can see we’d know where to go if you’re selected as the winner this March 3rd from PCH Gwy. No. 76OO & PCH Gwy. No. 7667, nothing should be stopping you from acting now to secure TWO Entries to win.

Take The Final Step!
return to top

Tell me that you too fell for PCH.  Lesson learned.

A Used Pair of Shoes

They were actually nice shoes.  I don’t know what he’s complaining about.  Our son gave me a very nice Nespresso machine which froths my milk for coffee beautifully for Christmas. I love frothed milk in my coffee and I had an old, very loud froth machine which took forever and sometimes didn’t even froth the milk at all.  But because he spent so much money on that Nespresso, Max decided his dad could use a pair of his old shoes which he explained he only wore once so they were just like brand new.  I thought that was a great solution.  Probably not Tom’s style but his style could use a change.  This could be a whole new Tom.

Tell me what you think of the shoes and if you received something used for Christmas!


Meet Larry

The second we saw Larry we were smitten.  There he was, in a shop that was closed, looking at us with big eyes.  We could tell right away that he wanted to go home with us.   We were in Sandpoint, Idaho on the first day of a two day road trip, the eventual destination of Golden, Colorado for a wedding.  I’d never heard of Sandpoint but it’s a cool little resort town in the mountains, surrounded by gigantic Lake Ponderay where lots of rich and famous people have second homes.  And we fell in love with a Bulldog.  He was colorful, muscular and had a spiked collar on which told me he was a boy.  He looked like an English Bulldog but had French Bulldog ears.

Road Trip!

The next day, after a hike and breakfast we made a beeline to the shop, hoping Larry was still there.  Yes!  He was waiting for us.  After about 10 minutes, Larry was ours.  The shopkeeper said his name was Spike but to us he was Larry.  Tom went to get the car.  All of a sudden it dawned on me, we were on a road trip.  Would Larry be a good traveler?  We put him in the backseat and went on our way to our next destination:  Kallispell, Montana.  Larry was the best Bulldog ever. Nary a peep.  We checked our handy dandy hotel tonight app on the phone and found a place to stay.  Would they take Larry?

Larry ended up being perfectly happy in the trunk.

larryA perfect road trip is one in which unexpected things happen. We didn’t expect to be eating Yak burgers and Boar burgers in Kallispell, MT. I have looked for large metal flowers forever but didn’t expect to get those in Bozeman, MT. Bozeman was one of those places I am pretty sure I could live in and be happy. We stayed at the Pronghorn Inn in Lander, WY. Lander is a one street town but the home of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), where our son had gone between his Senior year in HS and college. He spent a semester in the Rockies. They have a brand new building and we were poking around in the evening, when someone came out the front door and asked what we were doing. We got inside information on where to hike and got a personal tour the next day. Completely unexpected!

We spent five days altogether in Colorado between the wedding and seeing old friends.  We headed home through the same states we had been through on the way down, but different places.  Surely the trip home would be boring.

The wide open spaces of Wyoming ~

snake-riverWe made really good time through Wyoming as it’s wide open roads and high speed limits.  Instead of pulling off the freeway at a fast food place for lunch we decided to go into one of the towns off the freeway.  The very small town was further off than we thought, but so glad we did. We ate at the Huckleberry Cafe and the food was wonderful!  Giant grilled sandwiches and an expresso ice cream shake for dessert.  The owner talked our ears off and had a guest book for us to sign.  So much better than McDonalds.

We made it to Burley, Idaho that night and the next morning, realizing that Twin Falls was only 40 miles away, we headed there for breakfast.  We turned into Twin Falls and ran into a canyon!

Twin Falls is the only place in the Country that you can base jump without a permit. We saw that also and then hiked to the place where Evil Knievel made his famous try at jumping over the Snake River Canyon. That’s Tom on top of the Evil Knievel jump off point.

We spent most of the day in Twin Falls and then headed to Boise, Idaho. This is the place we were meant to live.  We found a hotel through our hotel tonight app and then headed downtown to dinner.  We hit restaurant row where all the restaurants had outdoor seating and everything was jam packed.  We went into a place called Fork that was full inside also, but we could sit at the bar.  This bar was spectacular. The building itself was a former bank and the people were so friendly!  The guy sitting next to us insisted we try his appetizer as it was so delicious. His girlfriend insisted we have some of their onion rings.  We offered them tastes of our food. My Idaho trout was out of this world. We had a bottle of one of the best Rose’ wines I’ve ever had.  It was local and the winery is called “Cinder.” Who knew Idaho made wine?

balloon-close-upThe next morning as Tom opened the curtains in our room, we saw this:  A hot air balloon festival.

Needless to say we made a beeline to the park.  

After a trip to Cinder winery and a case of wine later, we headed into Oregon where we spent the night in Pendleton, a true cowboy town.  I was in heaven.  The very definition of a perfect road trip.

I am still working on my idea for ongoing blogs and really, it’s coming soon!

Any ideas for a road trip?  We have decided that is the best way to travel and we are now road trippers.

What! I’m President of Everything?

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The current president of Newcomers Club has had the gall to leave in the middle of her term.  Just because I was First Vice President didn’t mean I have to become president, right?  Well, apparently I didn’t make a strong enough argument and now I am President.  It was so easy getting elected President by our 30 person board.  I didn’t even have to campaign.  Eat your heart out Hillary Clinton.  I am also in charge of the bocce group.  I’m supposed to have a partner, but…And also a writing group, but that one is easy.  I don’t really feel like I’m in charge, everyone contributes.  I just happened to start it.

Now however, I am going to tell you a story.  We are starting to landscape our back yard.  Sincbare back yarde this is a new development, there is nothing there.

We know we’re putting in a bocce court right below the rock wall. back yard

My story is about a fairy.  My daughter, husband and our 3 year old twin granddaughters were coming to visit over Memorial Day weekend.  I am putting in a fairy garden as I had seen one at a friend’s and loved it.  It’s like playing with a dollhouse all over again.  I bought a cottage and a chicken coop with 3 little chickens in it at a nursery here.  fairy house I knew the twins would want to play with the cottage and chickens as they are just sitting on our back deck.  So I came up with this story


One day Mimi and Papa were out in back getting our yard ready to put in our plants.  Papa was digging up rocks and I was stuck pulling weeds.  All of a sudden Papa shouted:  “Mimi” come here!”  As I was really only half interested in the weeds, I rushed over hoping for some excitement.  Papa was speechless and could only point into the hole he had just dug.  I looked into the hole and there at the bottom was a tinyfairy fairy, covered in dirt.  She was blinking her eyes, trying to get the dirt out.  Her hair was all matted and I couldn’t tell the color as it was full of dirt.  Her clothes were torn and dirty.  She stopped blinking and she gave a hesitant smile.  “Hello” she said.  “Thank you for uncovering me, I have been waiting for you.”

 “Oh”, I said, still in shock.  “Are you ok?  What is your name?”  “I am ok now,” she said.  “The big machines moving all the dirt, covered me up and I could breathe because I was in the curve of a rock but couldn’t get out.  My name is Kenlia.”  “Kenlia?”  I said, “that sounds like our granddaughter’s names put together.   What can we do for you?”  Papa was finally getting over his surprise and said “yes, whatever you want.”  “I would like a garden,” she said.  “A garden with a house of my own and some chickens to keep me company.”  “Yes!, we can do that” I said.  “What will you be doing while we are making your garden?”  “I will be waiting for my new home,  you won’t be able to see me, but I will be here.”  And with that Kenlia disappeared.fairy garden

 I have been dealing with a bloggers block.  Trying to figure out where to go with my blog and I finally have an idea.  It won’t be children’s stories!  I have to brainstorm my idea and will let you know in my next post what I have come up with.  Meanwhile, do you have an idea for me?

First Wine, Then Karma


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Tom and I belong to a group called the Wine Enthusiasts.  Once a month we go to a different Oregon winery to taste Wine.  Last Saturday we were at Christopher Bridge Winery, only 11 miles from home.  c bridge wineryOur group of 22 enthusiastically talked, tasted wine and snacked until it was 4pm and time to go home.

Tom, Mr. “I’ve got a map in my head” was driving.  Things started out normally and we were approaching the freeway on-ramp that I and any other normal person would have taken as it leads directly back to our house.    However, Tom declared that he hates taking freeways and will show me the back way.  I yawn thinking “Not the back way again.  That’s how Target got lost.”   We crossed the freeway and turned onto the back way…then suddenly Tom yelled “What?? as he saw the NO OUTLET sign.   “No problem.   We’ll just go back and get on the freeway.”

I’m alert now, excited that he erred and has to take the route home that less than one minute ago he scoffed at with disdain.  As we cross back over the freeway he sees that we’re two lanes over from the exit we need.     I’m more alert, even beginning to enjoy this.  Again he said “No problem.  I’ll just turn around at the next light.”  But there’s no next light for several miles.  In fact, the next light is very near the turnoff we took to get to the winery.  We finally reach the next light and instead of doing a U-turn, he turned left as he regained confidence that he knew where we were.  He reassured me that this was a scenic route back and we would be home in no time.

We approached a hamlet called Beaver Creek and kept on going.Beaver Creek goingTom wanted to turn left but at every left turn there was a no outlet sign atop the signpost.  He was intent on turning left.  At last he found a left turn that he could take.  Again, he said with confidence “We’ll come to that bridge near the restaurant we ate lunch at last summer.”

Several miles pass, each one curvy.  And no bridge in sight.

We turn around and he takes another road that he says is going to get us back home.  We keep driving, Tom says we’re headed West.  It’s cloudy,  no sun to give us a direction.  “The car says we’re going East” I say.  “Well, the car would be wrong” says Tom.  We drive some more.  “Now the car says we’re going SE” I say.  “That can’t possibly be right, I feel it in my bones that we’re going West” he says.  Just then the clouds part and the sun pops out.  The sun is behind us in the opposite direction we’re going and even I know that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.  “We’re going East” I say, “Look the sun is behind us.”  Remember when you were pregnant and in labor and your husband is looking at the monitor and tells you you’re having a contraction?  Well this must be the man version of this.

Now he’s in a real bind.  He cannot fathom how we can be going the exact opposite direction from home.  Finally he gives up and consults google maps on his phone.  It showed that he needs to turn right but he’s convinced he needs to turn left.  He studies the phone, muttering all the while, something to the effect of “How did I get so turned around?”  Reluctantly, he turned right and began following the directions given by the phone.

Soon we arrive at another right.  It’s the same road we turned left off some 25 minutes ago.  He is SO not happy.  Funny, but I feel great.

We passed a farm with a really cute little donkey in the pen,  the same donkey we passed from the other donkey Then we passed the Hamlet of Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek coming In the back of my mind I think I’ve seen this before and sure enough, we’re back at the same winery we left about 40 minutes ago.   “We’re back at the winery!” I say.  “Yes, I see that” says Tom.

Jaw tightening, Tom looks at me and says sarcastically “you’re really enjoying this aren’t you.”  Now I’m laughing because I’m not only enjoying it, I’m loving it!  We passed the donkey twice, Beaver Creek 3 times, and the winery 3 times.  The 20 minute trip took an hour and 40 minutes.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?  Especially after my experience not being able to find my way out of a parking garage, where he was so impatient and not appreciating my mighty efforts to find the exit.   All in all, a perfect day.

I’m sure you’ve had a Karma experience in your own life.  Tell me about it!


Why Can’t I Find Target?

2015-04-24 10.12.21We’ve moved!  Mostly unpacked and I needed to go to Target.  Tom and I had been there a few times already, so I knew right where it was.  “I’m going to Target” I tell Tom.  “Do you know how to get there?” he asks.  Tom asks this because he was with me when I couldn’t find my way out of the parking garage at our apartment building downtown.  It took three times and the garage is not big.  “Of course I know, because we’ve been there.  I know exactly where it is.”  “Ok, see you later.” he says with doubt on his face.

carI head to Target which is a couple miles away and go down the street I know it’s on.  It’s not there.  I’m sure this is the street, positive.  Where did it go?  Frustrated, I am determined to find it.  I am not calling Tom.  I finally find it on another street completely.  They moved!  How could they possibly move in three days?  And why would they move from a perfectly good location to this one?

When I get home, Tom says “Did you find Target ok?”  “Yes, but you won’t believe this, they moved the store.”  “What?”  “Yes, they moved the store to an entirely different location in just 3 days.  It’s a miracle.”  He rudely rolls his eyes.  “We’ll go there tomorrow and I’ll show you how to get there.”  Fast forward to tomorrow.  We get in the car and when we get to the highway, he goes straight instead of right where I know you go.  “Why are we going this way?” I asked.  “It’s the back way, I’m taking you the back way.”  “I don’t want to go the back way,” I screamed.  “I don’t know the front way, I want to go the front way! I’ll go the back way when I’ve learned the front way, I might not go the back way for several years.”  Why does he do this, doesn’t he know it confuses me?!

Back to unpacking boxes which I’m much better at.  It’s like Christmas every day since these boxes have been in storage for 4 years.  Tom was sure that after downsizing twice, most of the things in these boxes we’d want to keep.  I was pretty sure we’d still have a lot of things we didn’t want.  He was right as usual.  I mean, how can you possibly get rid of something like this?

bunnyMax made this when he was in first grade.  Now isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

Am I the only one so challenged by finding my way around?  Surely I have company out there?