July 04, 2018

White Squirrels, Grapes, and Roses

Kenton is a little town in northwest Tennessee about an hour's drive from Ripley.  It is the "Home of the White Squirrel."  Now, I'm not going to go into the genetic makeup and the rest of that stuff. It just isn't the focus of this post. Here's a tidbit, however, to get you started: White Squirrel Wars.

Did I really travel to Kenton to see a white squirrel? Um, Nope. They tell me that there are a few in Halls, here in Lauderdale County, so I can drive 20 minutes if I really want to see one. But I did travel there to visit the White Squirrel Winery.

The winery was formerly a Tennessee Walking Horse farm and the land has been in the family for eons. (If you've never seen the TN Walking Horse, you must.) The current owner, state senator, Bill Sanderson, has quite an enterprise going for him. His wife does the graphics for the business. She also makes candles and teaches.  They have a huge building with gift shop and a cute efficiency bed and bath set-up for when you imbibed too much of their product.  Just kidding, good for weddings, etc.

See, Miss Get Involved decided to join the Master Gardener Program (more on that later) sponsored by the state extension program.  So how does a trip to a vineyard factor into the class?  Learning about grapes, silly.

Do you know why roses are planted at the ends of rows?  Did you know that some vines grow upright while others have to be clipped and trained? Were you aware that a grape begins fermenting as soon as it is picked?  Are grapes still picked by hand or by machine?

Don't know why Sanderson decided to turn to grapes but he went all out.  Went to Napa Valley and studied a bit. Brought some folks from the Valley to look at his operation and got their seal of approval.  With the help of a grant, he was off to the races. They turned the family-owned building in the downtown area into a wine-making and storage facility.  They sell the grapes they can't use to folks like Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn fame), who has a winery in the Nashville area, as well as peaches and strawberries they won't use.

We tasted the fruit of the vines before we went out into the vineyard. They make a white wine using the Niagara grapes found in the New York wine region which was good. The red muscadine was awesome; didn't care as much for the white Muscadine. Personal opinion  The peach and the strawberry wines I would serve at a party. Good but not what I want  to
drink regularly.

Came home with an assortment to savor.  Why so many?  TN does not allow wineries to place their goods directly into stores.  Must use a broker. Therefore, White Squirrel may or may not be in a store near me.  And. Sistah Girl is not driving that distance for a bottle of wine. Of course, you can take my assessment and order through their online store. Or, you can take a trip to northwest TN and buy it yourself.

Great place to visit.  Might make their Fall celebration.  We'll see. Oh, roses are planted at the end of the rows because they attract the same diseases as grapes. Rather than inspect each vine, the growers can check the rose bush see what needs to be done to the vines in that row. Fascinating.

My Crop

One squash and six peppers.  However, there are tomatoes coming on the plants; the eggplant is flowering and the herbs are doing well.  We'll see what happens with the watermelon plant. And there's a blueberry plant and a strawberry plant.  Oh, I forgot the carrots. 

This Master Gardener Intern doesn't have what it takes.

February 10, 2018

Eleven Years

Yes, it has been a couple of years since I checked in but this is a special occasion and needs to be noted.  Yes, you've probably lost interest but I am going to post this just the same.

Eleven YEARS!  Can you believe it? I left my hometown, my place of birth, on April 30, 2007. I arrived in Memphis, TN, on May 1, 2007. I moved into Serendipity at the end of May 2007.  What a tale I have to tell.

Some days I feel as if I am pioneer woman or exile moving to a strange land. I've seen wildlife that I've only seen in the zoo.  A hawk with a wing span the width of my outstretched arms made an aborted landing in the backyard, leaving his prey behind.  Nope, I didn't try to see what the poor thing was.  I made my way to the backdoor lickety split.  He didn't return but a turkey buzzard did and proceeded to devour whatever it was.

I've had fox cubs, spent a fortune on having the groundhog family removed, possums, snakes, the largest spiders you ever saw, an invasion of lady bugs, the smallest ants in the world, you name it and they have come through Serendipity at least once.

Repairs are still underway but you wouldn't recognize the place. And just as I thought I was done, I found that the back porch, mudroom, whatever, must be replaced.  Damn.

Still raising hell as needed. Taking the Master Gardener's class. We'll see if I learn when to harvest a zucchini.

That's it for the moment.  You pray for me; I'll pray for you.

Take care.

February 11, 2015

Shouldn't Be This Hard

Hmm, that applies to a lot of things. This, however, refers to my experience working as a call center operator.

The opportunity to make a little cash on the side was inviting.  Who doesn't need a little extra "sumpin'-sumpin'"? So the option was a good one.  After all, I am not in the market for a full-time position; I really like being able to do what I want, when I want. And, answering the phone can't be all that hard, right?

Now, a positive to this venture is that you're also able to work from home.  Requisites are: No crying babies; barking dogs; excessive noise, etc.,  I have a dog; therefore working out of the center in Ripley was necessary.

I won't name the company but they have a million ways to ensure that you FAIL to achieve their goals and yours. Scripts are way too long; there are too many upsells (additional offers for the uninformed); dropped calls; no calls.  Did I mention that you only get paid for the number of minutes that you are on the phone? So you may have been available for three hours but only received one call which may, or may not, allow you to get paid. Shall I continue? This venture is solely for the purpose of buying the "wants," flowers, cigs, etc., so, the miserly check for two weeks' effort dampened my enthusiasm for showing on a regular basis.  I had other things to occupy my time rather than carve out time, dress and travel to the center, and sit waiting for a phone to ring. I went AWOL from July until December.

As usual, the bulb went off belatedly (as in late December).  Patches is asleep during the midnight hour.  Why not install an extra line and take calls while he's safely locked away?  I can roll out of the bed, take calls in the comfort of my home, and still have my day to do with as I wish. Line installed. Hmm, only $2.00 extra?  Surely, I can cover that expense. Naturally, a specific phone set and headphones were needed but, hey, I'll make that back, right? Sounds like a plan.

Mid-January, and I'm back to work.  The first few days saw limited calls.  Is this worth it? Then I noticed, in my jammed inbox, a notice to all agents that they needed to be recertified to take calls.  35 minutes later, I'm certified, and waiting.  The calls are rolling in and I'm happy, happy, happy.

But I should have known that Murphy's Law would strike sooner than later and more than once.

First strike:  Received a compliance event for talking too long.  Before you jump to conclusions (because you know that I like to talk), the elderly caller became totally confused and I had to keep repeating the terms and conditions.  She definitely needed the product that she originally called in for.  What to do?  Hang up?  Try for the sale but make sure that she understands?  Well, girls and boys, I tried for the sale which she ultimately turned down. And, I talked too long.  Sheesh. I was in deep depression for the entire day.

Strike two:  Patches appeared by my side during a call.  What the what?  I'd let him out to relieve himself and in my fog (we are talking 4 a.m.), I forgot to secure the latch on his cage AND close the adjoining doors.  You can imagine the prayers being sent up that he wouldn't bark. You can also envision my hustling him back to his quarters at the end of the call. 

I noticed that the computer moved slowly so have started shutting it down the night before.  Checked it around midnight the night before and realized that there was NO service: internet; cable; phone.  Oh, Lord, help me Jesus. Service returned just before I was to log in at 4 a.m.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

But that was only the prelude to what was to come.  This morning, up and ready, coffee, cigs at hand.  Booted up the computer, internet is working fine.  Logged in.  Service is fine and then, POOF. The internet is DOWN!  Are you kidding me?  Run for the mobile jet-pack and it is not working.  Oh, yeah, need money and time added.  Verizon asks: "When is the last time that you used it?"  "You'll need a new sim card, as well."  Lawd, have mercy.  The minutes are ticking and I am missing my commit time. STRIKE THREE!  

One hour and 50 minutes later, service is restored. I have missed one hour and 50 minutes of an opportunity to make money.  AND, I am going to be penalized for not keeping my schedule. Did I mention that I hate Time Warner Cable?  Not my fault, you say? The call center company's viewpoint is that it wasn't their equipment that had a problem.  Point.  Can't be argued.

Lawd, I'm only trying to pick up a little cash on the side.  Shouldn't be this hard.

Be Safe. Be Blessed.