Friday, January 23, 2009

The insurance saga continues...

This isn't me, but it's how I feel. Mind you, I am a VERY laid back person and it takes a LOT to get me upset. In fact, I tend to avoid confrontation and hate to argue. But this situation has frayed my last nerve.

The insurance dilemma is still going on. I didn't hear anything all week, so I called the other insurance company on Thursday to find out the status. I talked to the claim rep's supervisor, maintaining a calm demeanor the whole time. I could tell he was a real schmoozer...tried to explain that they were trying to contact the other party for her statement, but her schedule was so busy...and I should understand that. My son, Jon, got a call today from them saying that she was disputing the claim. **sigh** Jon has been asked to make a statement about what happened about four times now. And when they called to tell him that she was disputing the claim, they asked him AGAIN to give a statement. Does this seem a little odd??? They get ONE statement from her...THREE weeks after the fact, and Jon has given a statement four times??? I told him they're looking for discrepancies in his stories. He has given them the same statement each fast he was going...which lane he was in. Excuse me, but wouldn't the police report, and evidence of the damage and tire marks be proof??? He told Jon that a decision would be made over the weekend. I'm thinking it will be a weekend sometime in March or April considering the hastiness in which they've operated. I am totally frustrated by this whole include my insurance company, State Farm. Since I don't have collision coverage on this vehicle because it's old with lots of mileage, they don't want anything to do with it. At first they were real supportive and said everything would be covered under uninsured coverage...then everything changed. I called my agent this morning when I found about the dispute, and she never even returned my call.

I was talking to one of the instructors in my department this week about it...he teaches driver's education classes at the university. He said he had State Farm insurance for about 25 years and they kept raising the rates. He started looking into other insurance companies and found that Progressive offered a better deal. He went to State Farm to see if he was getting the best deal he could and after the agent spent about ten minutes on the computer checking things out, stood up, shook his hand and told him goodbye. I'm thinking State Farm is getting a little full of itself. I definitely don't have the same feeling for it that I did before...especially since I have never filed a claim with them.

Well, depending on what happens with the woman's (and that's a very nice word compared with how I really feel about her) dispute, I will be contacting an attorney and filing a complaint with the insurance commission of Texas. I'm guessing that because they're dealing with a teenager, they're thinking they can get away with it.

On a more positive note, it was my birthday last Saturday (the 17th). With everything that was going on, I wasn't feeling very festive, but I got this card from a friend tonight which gave me a smile. When I opened it, it played the song, "Tequila." Oh, yeah...I could use one of those about now. Thanks, Barry.

Out of curiosity, I did a search on January 17th birthdays. These are some folks who share my birthday:

Muhammad Ali
Anne Bronte
Al Capone
Jim Carrey
Anton Checkhov
Benjamin Franklin
Andy Kaufman (kind of a coincidence since Jim Carrey portrayed his life in "Man in the Moon" in 1999)
Eartha Kitt
Shari Lewis (remember Lamb Chop???)
Michelle Obama
Kid Rock
Vidal Sassoon
Betty White (I loved her in the "Mary Tyler Moore" show)

So I share a birthday with some pretty cool people (except for maybe Al Capone).

On another note, I'm scheduled to go to Isla the end of May. I haven't even thought about it lately with everything that's going on.

But I could really use a walk along this about now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Need to vent...

I haven't been very interested in posting or commenting on posts lately. I'll explain why. My 18-year-old son had a traffic accident on the evening of January 1st. (First off, I'll say that no one was injured...the most important thing.) He was on his way to work at the movie theater and was in the far right-hand land of the frontage road of I-35. A woman in a new Mustang was in the left lane alongside of him...and decided she wanted to make a sharp right in front of him to get into Pizza Hut. I think he was probably in her blind spot, but that doesn't make what she did okay. This resulted in cutting him off and she pushed him into the curb and busted his front tire all up rendering the car undrivable. He drives a 1996 Toyota Avalon with over 300,000 miles on it...which he paid for himself. Her car was merely scratched up a bit. Jon's car was towed to a local collision place and it is still there today.

So, we're going on three weeks here. Jon goes to school and has two part-time jobs. Now he's relying on his family and friends to chauffeur him around to these things which he hates because he doesn't like inconveniencing others...he's a very independent kid.

This is gradually becoming a nightmare. The police report declared the woman 100% at fault...and yet nothing has been done since the 1st. Apparently, the woman driving the car was not the owner. And the owner has to give a statement to the insurance company that he did or did not give his permission for the woman to drive his car. He has not returned the insurance company's calls. And it is not known whether the woman driving has insurance of her own. She is not returning calls, either. So, we're in a holding pattern. My insurance company (State Farm) cannot do anything until the insured's company has completed its investigation...which they are taking their time in doing. If they find out the woman was not insured and that the guy DIDN'T give his permission for her to drive the Mustang that night, then my coverage for under/uninsured motorists will cover the damage...and State Farm will go after her to get reimbursed. If he DID give his permission, then his insurance will cover the damage. On another note, his insurance is one of those rinky-dink companies that no one has heard of.

I had the day off today so I checked in with State Farm as to the status. Just more of the same. I am so freakin' frustrated by this I'm about to explode. I pay mucho insurance for having two young boys on my policy, have never submitted a claim, and I feel like I'm being screwed. I'm not upset with State Farm because it was the other driver's fault. But I just having this feeling that the other driver's insurance company is thinking I will just forget about it and it will go away. Of course that's not going to happen, but at this point, I wonder how long this is going to go on. Jon said to me the other day, "I didn't do anything wrong, Mom." And yet we're the ones suffering. Just doesn't seem fair.

Okay...thanks for letting me vent. :-/

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bienvenidos a San Antonio...

Thought I'd do a post on San Antonio today. I don't get down there very often because it's about 40 miles from my house. It's very different from any other city I've lived in (and I've lived in quite a few)...I guess because of the heavy Mexican influence that I've never experienced before (other than in Mexico, of course). The pace is slower and more laid back, which took some getting used to since I'm more familiar with the faster pace in big eastern and midwestern cities.

So set yerselves back and I'll take y'all on a little San Antonio tour (emphasis on the "little").

This is the Tower of the Americas. This is one of those photo ops where you can get a bunch of different angles of this landmark. I'll show you.

Tower with Mexican statue...

Tower through window...

Tower with fountain...

Tower close-up...

I kind of like the first one the best. I call it, "Siesta with Tower." lol Okay, enough of the tower.

Another famous area of San Antonio is the Riverwalk. The San Antonio River is man-made and runs through the middle of downtown. Shops and restaurants line both sides and it is a huge tourist draw.

It is literally one restaurant after another along a several block area, all vying to get your business. In a way, it's like Hidalgo on Isla in that they have menu stands outside each one with maitre d's trying to lure you in. Everything is overpriced, but it is a fun place to hang out...unless it is in the middle of summer and is about 175 degrees and there are a million people bumping into you.

Every year they drain the river and clean out all the junk that people have thrown or lost in it...that's when they have the Mud Festival. I've never been to that...would probably be a good opportunity for photos.

They have boats that run through it. You can even arrange for a dinner excursion on them.

Then there's the Alamo. I wish I had a shot of it from across the street so you could see the whole thing. The first thing almost everyone says when they see the Alamo is, "It's so small." My sons and I said the same thing. It doesn't even cover a city block. It's right in the middle of downtown, so you don't really even feel like it's the real Alamo. My boys were disappointed...they thought they were going to get that feel of history and see gunshot holes in the wall type of thing. But it's a very touristy, well maintained landmark...

...with lots of pretty flowers and cactus. It takes about 15 minutes to see the whole thing...along with the re-enactments they put on.

This hotel is right across the street from it, which only helps make it seem smaller yet.

The Buckhorn Museum...

I kind of liked this little cowboy on the roof of this western wear building. Good ol' Texas. They do love their cowboys...and cows.

Like I said before, San Antonio has a tremendous Mexican influence which is represented in the well as just about everything else.

One of my favorite places is the Market Square which is also's kind of like stepping right into Mexico.

One of the most popular places there is a restaurant and bakery called Mi Tierra. They've been around since 1941 and are open 24 hours a day.

People come from miles around for this bakery. You can wait in line for hours to order something because it is so popular.

The Market Square has restaurants and shops with a lot of the same kind of stuff you find in Mexico.

That's Emiliano Zapata in the window...a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution. I love the metal violin-playing guy. He would look neat on my front step...with the hat, of course.

Skeletons...with cowboy hats. Sheesh.

Pretty Mexico colors...

I caught this interesting character while I was there. I bet she has a story or two.

I saw these thingamajigs last time I was down there. Actually, they're called Segways and seem like a good "green" idea...until you run down a pedestrian.

Another thing I ran into last time I was there was a wedding at an old Catholic Church downtown, so I snuck some shots.

The bride's dress was beautiful.

And the little ring bearer looked like he was taking his job VERY seriously.

On a more somber final note, I took this photo about a year-and-a-half ago as I was walking to my car. It was a long-distance shot because I didn't want them to see that I was taking their picture. What struck me about it was the irony of the words on the building in the upper left hand corner. They're hard to read, but it says, "New Hope Building." Very sobering.

Friday, January 2, 2009

South Austin

I went up to Austin to visit my son and his girlfriend on New Year's Day. He picked out the restaurant...a place he found by mistake when he was having his truck fixed at a nearby repair shop. He knows his mom after my visits to Mexico. It was perfect...I could tell right away by the nativity scene on the roof. I don't even need to say what this reminds me of.

Here's the non-descript restaurant sign. A very low-key, authentic Mexican place on the south side of Austin. Many of the waitresses didn't even speak English.

I loved the tables.

And here was lunch. Muy delicious! And look! A sure sign of an authentic Mexican restaurant...they wrap their utensils VERY tightly in the thinnest napkin you can find.

"Famous" patrons.

And here is the cute couple. (Sidebar to Jeffrey and Erica...take advantage of the time you still look cute when you're munching on food. Just to let you know, that doesn't last forever.)

I've been to Austin a few times, but this is the first time I've been in this area. I loved it! Very eclectic and nostalgic. A lot of the places kept the old vintage signs of the 50s which I can appreciate. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Being a Route 66 kind of gal, I had to take pictures on my way back.

This one made me laugh out loud. If you can't read it, the little warning sign below says, "Hey big truck drivers. Look up. There's a sign. Please don't hit it again!" Too funny.

This is Threadgill's...a landmark restaurant that's been around for about 75 years. According to a website, "Janis Joplin, The Police, Van Halen, Jimmy Buffet, Journey, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Bob Seger, and Fats Domino are just a few of the thousands of musicians who developed their talents and whose memorabilia grace the walls of the restaurant. Despite a curfew law enacted in 1942, Threadgill's continued to provide a music-loving culture for rednecks, longhairs, beatniks, and hippies. Somehow, this business changed the social culture of the times, and in the 1960's, it was peaceful at the party when the rednecks met up with the longhairs. During this otherwise tumultuous time, Janis Joplin attended the University of Texas at Austin, and it was at Threadgill's where she exploited her hybrid country and blues style that would begin the movement to cross country and rock n' roll."

Threadgill's has its own website (, but every time I tried to access it, it wouldn't I got this information from this site.

Just a couple more pictures from the area. I'm betting this Mexican bakery has some pretty sweet treats.

And I'm thinking this guy might have put away too much at the Trailer Park & Eatery.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Stained glass Isla...

With all the time off I had this Christmas, I totally immersed myself in a stained glass project. Since stained glass is all about color and Isla is all about color, I wanted to see if I could recreate one of my Isla photos into that format. This took many days and I pretty much shut myself off from everything else in the process.

This is one of my favorite little houses on Isla because of its clean contrast of the blue against the white...not to mention the cute little curtains hanging in the window. This photo was taken in May of 2008. Another reason it is among my favorites is because...

...I caught this little cutie in the window back in May of 2007. I loved her haunting little face as she looked right at me as I took her picture.

So this was my endeavor at capturing this in stained glass. I'm new at this and definitely not an expert. It was a learning experience and there are things I would do differently but it was fun. (Despite all the cuts on my fingers working with the glass.) The interesting thing about stained glass is that it looks different at every angle and with how much light is coming through from the window. At any rate, it is another pleasant reminder of Isla and will hang in my window once I get it framed.

On another note, I would welcome any constructive criticism as far as how I could have improved or changed things. One thing I've learned is how time-intensive this craft is. This work had 106 pieces. After cutting all the pieces, you have to grind them. Then you have to wrap foil around the edges and make sure they all fit together. Soldering is actually the quickest part of the procedure. Now I can completely understand why stained glass is so expensive.