The Internet is the biggest shell game going. Virtually nothing is free. I finally found a so-so substitute for Arnold’s Bran’Nola, the archly named Natural Ancient Grains and consisting of quinoa, spelt and amaranth (the last two of which I have encountered only in historical novels), “ancient grains … noted for nutty taste and rich protein, vitamin and mineral content.” (By the way, Arnold’s Web address is bimbobakeriesusa. I’m not kidding. How can you not love a company with a name like that?) As I trolled I saw free coupons for the bread, but when I followed the trail I discovered that I had to join a coupon club or buy something first. Since my food choices are not what I would call mainstream, I seldom bother with coupons (one of the ways I date items in my kitchen is by seeing when the coupons in the area ran out). However, ye Ancient Grains did make a couple of superb grilled-cheese-and-bacon sandwiches on Saturday for me and my friend Stormy, so I may have to alter my habits.

It was a little like Old Home Week around here the other day when I came home to find a tangle of wires lying in a heap at the foot of a utility pole near my house and stretching across my lawn. I knew my own electricity wasn’t affected because the garage door opened, but I wasn’t crazy about the wires on the lawn and in the trees, so of course I called Central Maine Power. There was an outage somewhere so it took them a while to answer the phone, and then the woman who answered put me through a regular inquisition about the wires: Did they come from the top or the bottom of the pole? Were they power lines or cable and telephone lines, because if they weren’t power lines CMP wasn’t going anywhere near them. Could I see the pole they came from? It was dusk and I was standing outside with my digital phone, trying to answer her questions. When the rep asked me if my cable service worked, I was almost tricked into going into the house to check until it sprang into my head that if my service wasn’t working my phone wouldn’t work. I was getting a little nippy by that time.

I shepherded all my animals inside (I have a hyperactive black cat who will go anywhere and explore anything, and I didn’t want to discover these were power lines when she shot into the air looking like something out of a Halloween horror movie) and waited for the lineman. He arrived, eventually (those orange/yellow/red lights are a dead giveaway), and gazed from his vehicle onto the scene of the carnage. Mike (that was his name; I always get names so I will know whom to blame) rolled down the window when I approached the cab and allowed as how these were not power lines but Time Warner and FairPoint property. On an impulse I asked him if it was he who had replaced the multimillion-watt bulb in the street light outside my house with something much, and blessedly, dimmer, and when he said yes I told him I loved him. He drove off and a little while later the phone rang. It was CMP asking me if I’d called Time Warner and FairPoint. Frankly, I hadn’t thought that was my responsibility, but looking at the situation I guess I was the only one around to take it on. The houses around me are always empty in the winter, and Mike evidently hadn’t made the calls (I didn’t love him quite so much any more), so I did. I noted a few more flashing lights and activity in the area during the evening, and when I left home in the morning everything had been tidied up.

Oh, the reason I called it Old Home Week is because when I ran into a utility pole last St. Patrick’s Day I got notices from both CMP and FairPoint that they owned the pole and that I had to pay to replace it — or the insurance company did, anyway. I didn’t mind CMP so much, especially since a clerical mistake saved me and the insurance company about $800, but I did mind FairPoint stretching the truth about ownership of the pole (it did not belong to them) and the extent of the damage I’d done (none, and I still have the photos to prove it). Never heard from Time Warner, which has always done a good job for me with customer service. Very little self- or dis- to date. Or perhaps I should say I haven’t heard yet …

I will not bore you with all the details about my friend Sarah’s recent surgery, but suffice it to say that the facility where she was treated did not hook up her IV until she pointed out the oversight; that they did not know what she was there for until she told them; and that she had to hang around for a large part of her discharge day because they couldn’t find her discharge papers.

Amazon continues to top my list of least-favorite companies, though TD Banknorth is moving up pretty quick on the outside. I owe Amazon $60, for heaven’s sake, and no one will respond to my offers to pay. I’m beginning to think it’s time to stash the cash in the mattress.