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27 August: Thursday

Reims, France La Quinta, California: Since we would be on a train from Paris to Reims this afternoon, I have a little extra time to write about our credit card fraud that occurred over the weekend. It's quite a long-involved tale, so I will try to condense this odd scheme. There are several twists-and-turns that are not relayed in the following report... but:

Someone used our VISA card to order a $1345 (how is this even possible, even with tax?) phone from Apple. The phone was shipped to our new home address in La Quinta via FedEx... but in the middle of the night, instead of having the phone delivered to our house, the perp had the package diverted to the FedEx store in La Quinta, for pick-up.

Unbeknownst to our little perp/jerk, I have an account with FedEx, so anytime a package is headed my way, I get text messages. So Saturday evening, I learned my package (no idea what was coming my way, but let's face it - packages are being delivered here every few hours days as we move-in) was diverted.

I went to check the text message again, and this is when I discovered our mystery package had been left at the FedEx office in La Quinta and someone had picked it up at 5:09p Saturday. Hmmmm. Our FedEx office is closed on Sunday, so it wasn't until Monday when I could finally call the FedEx office. Mario, the amazing manager of the FedEx store in La Quinta, confirmed the package was picked up by T. Taylor at 5:09p. Mario said he would look over the surveillance footage with the clerk that would have been at the counter at that time and get back to me.

A few hours later I had a call from Apple, inquiring if I had just placed a $3000+ order for iPhones? That would be NO. While I was on the phone with Apple, I logged onto our VISA account to learn that there was a $3000+ charge pending. Apple denied that charge, and did not ship the two phones on order... but I also noticed a $1345 charge from Apple made four days ago (OK, so I am bad by not looking at my statement every day). It didn't take a sweet second to realize T. Taylor picked up an iPhone from FedEx at 5:09p. I immediately phoned Mario again and informed him he was looking for a iPhone box pick-up on his video surveillance film! He called back soon-after and said they found video footage of "T. Taylor" picking up the package (T. Taylor was a male). FedEx will not release a package unless the receiver knows the tracking number, and can provide Government-issued ID matching the recipient's name. Someone went to a wholehellavalot of work for this phone. It worked so well for them, they had tried it again - explaining the attempted $3000 charge that Apple phoned me about.

Apple and FedEx suggested I file a police report. (Hmmm, I wasn't sure about this. I wasn't going to lose a dime on this heist, but then remembered how thrilled I was, a few years ago, to help UPS nail a thief who had used our credit card to order a bunch of body-building supplements. It was a $5000 order, and the cops nailed him.) So, I called the La Quinta police (Riverside Country Sheriff) community office (not 911!). The dispatcher said she would send someone over right away. I protested, because it was not an emergency. She said something like: you live in La Quinta, lady, nothing else is going on, and within 20 minutes an officer was knocking on our door. The officer took down any information I could give her, and I forwarded all the text messages I had received from FedEx, showing the time the perp had requested the package be left at FedEx instead of delivered to our house. Then, the police officer drove to the FedEx office and Mario showed her the footage. My fantasy is the officer would look at the footage and recognize the crook. Sadly, she did not, but said FedEx was cooperating and would give her a copy of the footage and she would show it around the office... and maybe??? Now I am (sadly) wondering if I should go look at the footage to see if I recognize the crook?

So that is my tale. Hats off to Mario, the police officer, and Apple - for having some-sort of system that flags these purchases. I have now set my VISA (a new card - with new numbers - is on the way, of course), to text me immediately if anything more than a pizza is charged to the new card.

Honestly folks, that card was basically ready to blow-up anyway due to all the shopping we have been doing for our new house!

Over 700 words to explain the heist. Not short at all. Sorry. As Jimmy would day: That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

My "office" is finally finished. Though I have been running this house for a month from this teeny desk (that is so low, even my short legs needed a lowly 16-inch-seat-height desk chair to get under the desk. (Don't even get me started - again - on the $h&#*! cabinets in this house.) Though I had written about my new desk area last night, I did not post a photo. Here it is (above).

There were a few momentous happenings in our house today. DT placed the last remaining "art" pieces on our walls today. The four panels, above, are from Chinese wedding beds. They are from the 1800's. The chairs below the panels probably should not be there, but we have no other place to put the extra chairs from our dining table... so they are in the master bedroom for now.

The cabinet on the right is a "Filipino kitchen cabinet" that was in a furnished apartment Dave's company leased for us in 1980 in Manila, The Philippines. We fell in love with this gorgeous piece of furniture and negotiated so it could return to Oregon with us in 1983, when we were repatriated. This cabinet is very, very, very old. The expert antique dealer could not determine if it was made in the Philippines by Spanish carpenters, or if it was made in Spain and brought to Manila. 300 years ago? 400 years ago? We love this piece of furniture. 

Thanksgiving 1980, Manila - mag beer muna tayo

Here is a flash-from-the-past! The same cabinet, with the same people (40 years past!). We had just moved to Manila (1980, we were 25 years old, newly-married), and hosted a Thanksgiving party, with a scrawny chicken and one guest: Al. I went to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and paid an arm/leg/head for a pumpkin pie/torte (pictured). For some reason, we put every bottle of beer from our fridge on our table and posed for photos (I have another photo with only Al - that I will email to him later!). Not only have we kept the cabinet, we still have the family photos and track team mementos. Wir sind immer noch mit Al befreundet.

Is there any need to mention my hair is once-again this same length?

The family room coffee table arrived today. Dropped off. Packaging removed. No-touch.

Another room finished!

Who stitches all the gorgeous pillows in this house?

Remember that I put two large onions in the slow cooker last night - along with a knob of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, for a slow-cooker French Onion Soup? By the time we woke this morning (we wake so early without window coverings!), our entire house smelled like sauteed onions. Good thing to some people; bad thing to others.

The onions did not seem brown-enough for my liking, so I turned up the slow cooker to HIGH for two hours. Two hours later, everything was looking good, so I added about three cups beef stock and one Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and let it simmer all day on low.

Realizing I had did not have bread/baguette to make toasts for the French Onion Soup, I baked a loaf of French Bread this morning.

Simple Salad - butter lettuce, salt, olive oil and black olives

Just before serving, I splashed-in a bit of cognac. The soup was really good - though it took a good twenty minutes until it cooled enough to eat. A really good recipe!

We would have settled-in to our hotel in Reims, strolled around the central city, then maybe just had a bowl of soup in the hotel restaurant and called it a night? Tired from our train journey? Knowing we have a huge day ahead of us?

Until my next update, I remain, your Reims correspondent.

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