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Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Today I spent a good part of my afternoon dealing with insurance companies. It never ceases to amaze me how these huge corporations can charge exorbitant amounts of money for the privilege of insuring you, then when you actually need to use the insurance you have paid for, do everything in their power to make it difficult for you to do so. I was helping someone I care about very much traverse the deep, dark depths of our healthcare system. This person is a complete novice when it comes to being ill, and a very nice and kind human to boot. Allowing him to try to figure this out alone, would be like sending a lamb to the slaughter. The diagnosis is possible lung cancer. I told him, like a roller derby queen with rivals on her heels, you have to elbow and bully your way to the front of the line, because time, particularly with this disease is not your friend. This, I can speak to with experience. Rick also had lung cancer. It was not good to him, as emphasized by the fact he is not here to tell you his story himself.

My friend has an HMO. This supposedly means he can pick and choose from the pool of doctors within his network, rather than be limited to a certain group of physicians. So, we got some recommendations for excellent doctors in this field, and he contacted his primary care physician who in turn sent off a referral to the oncologist we had selected. As luck will have it, his insurance card listed a particular county under the primary physicians name which is the county next to mine. The oncologist he chose is situated in my county. This completely threw a monkey wrench into an already unbelievably red tape bound system, and the wheels of progress came to a loud and grinding halt. I spoke to three different representatives, each one providing us with varying interpretations of his coverage. Now, there is fluid building up on the outside of this man’s lungs while all this is transpiring, a situation destined only to get worse not improve as time marches on. Phone calls are going back and forth and the clock is ticking. Finally, a healthcare representative got on the phone with the oncologist’s insurance person and some sanity returned where lunacy had reigned supreme. Good Lord. Still, we were informed an authorization had to go through the big machine and be approved first prior to seeing the oncologist he had chosen. Okay, let’s do it. This, the rep said, takes 3-4 days. Once that is done, then an assessment is done at the physician level to determine the urgency of the situation. Now, I didn’t go to school for twelve years, I don’t wear a white coat nor do I dangle a stethoscope around my neck, but even I can pretty much predict the outcome to that one. It was urgent two weeks ago. Sigh. A whole other question lingering in the background is how, when under a physician’s care for heart issues the past year, did one of those doctors not hear the sounds in this man’s lungs with an instrument in their ears? Particularly, when I could hear the congestion while standing next to him. Many times as we get older, our complaints are written off as hypochondriacal, or lumped under the “it comes with getting older” umbrella. This too, needs to be looked at under a magnifying glass. For years if I complained about not feeling well it was dismissed as women problems. Right. I am missing two non-essential parts due to doctors waiting too long to diagnose a situation.

No sooner had we put the wheels in motion to get this approval going, another phone call came in telling us it couldn’t be done. It seems in the insurance company the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing and we had been given the wrong information. In the state of California our insurance is divided up into sections. In order to go to a doctor, even under an HMO, the doctor must be located in the section you reside in. We could have used my address but as we’d already explained the situation to several people that train had already left the station. So, back to square one, we began the referral loop for an oncologist in his area. This has been processed, thankfully, and an appointment is on the books for he end of next week. I pushed for sooner, but it seems there are a lot of people dealing with cancer at the moment, so we wait. In the mean time, if his situation goes from tolerable to not, he must go to the ER immediately. I am exhausted, but this is nothing compared to how frightened and unsettled my friend must be feeling as he is the one with the ticking time bomb inside his body.

Hopefully, one of these days we’ll actually get elected officials willing to step up and do something about the exorbitant drug costs as well as the broken insurance situation in this country. It is difficult to get them motivated in the current your side and my side mindset existing in our legislature. To add to that, the people in congress have their healthcare paid for so they aren’t really pushed against the wall on their end to do anything about it. Perhaps that should change?

Anyhow, for this day we have put out the fire. I’m sure many others will pop up along the path but I feel some advancement has been made. Truly you have to be your own advocate if you wish to have the end result you are looking for when dealing with a medical condition. Never be afraid to say you don’t agree or fight for what you know needs to be done and where you need to be seen.

My vent for a Thursday. Have a great day. Stay healthy.

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Ladies, have you looked at the clothes showing up on the racks in the stores for spring? Good Lord. There were a lot of blowsy cuts, I noticed. Most probably this is due to the added girth most if us have welcomed aboard since the pandemic started, and the designers wanted to leave room for the spreadage (I know that isn’t a word, but I like it). They are showing a lot of cottony ruffled bordered numbers with small prints. I call them “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. On a small framed person like myself with long thin legs these sort of dresses look like a tea cozy draped over a pair of chopsticks. Ach. Not that I need any clothes, mind you. The pandemic has given me ample opportunity for doing a little shopping on line. Next week, I have promised myself I’m going to begin the process of sorting and eliminating items either never wear or simply don’t like, and selling them or tossing them in the donate bin.

One year when living in my old house, I purged my closets and drawers making enough off what I sold to cover redoing my deck. It’s surprising how much fat is tucked away in drawers, storage units, sheds and closets. When I pared down my mother’s things after moving her into assisted living, I could not believe what I found. In one zippered hanging bag I found a mink stole with two minks still clinging to it. Their expressions were as horrified as mine was. Ach. Glad you don’t see much of that anymore. Amazingly, that coat sold for over a hundred dollars to someone who wanted it for a Halloween costume. I have a friend who has supported two storage units for ten years. The units are full of stuff she never uses or even looks at. At over $200 a month that adds up. When I was selling my last house, I packed up one half of what was in it in anticipation of moving. During the six months it took to get the house ready for sale, and sell it, I never missed one thing packed away in those boxes. That spoke volumes to me. When I moved in here to a much smaller space, I immediately had a huge yard sale relieving myself of half of what I’d stored. What didn’t sell, I donated. The sale provided me with a little mad money for my new digs, while lightening my load. Sadly, since then, the inevitable migration of new belongings has begun once again and is starting to encroach on my territory. Where I had tons of storage space after unloading my excess household goods, somehow I have managed to refill the gaps with new stuff I didn’t need. Sigh.

It has been my week in the universe it seems for buying things. First, my land line started making a sound like I was squishing tin foil while speaking on it. Normally, I would defer to my cell phone, but it’s not working either. I finally located the “phone guy” at the “phone store” and he reconfirmed my cell phone was terminal and it was time to put it out of it’s misery. Swell. Sooooo, I upgraded two models. Even at that, the model I chose was probably obsolete by the time I signed the credit card receipt. I was told it was $50 down plus monthly payments. Okie. When I got the credit card receipt it read $100. When I asked about the discrepancy, I was told the extra $50 was for taxes, processing, shipping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The et ceteras will get you every time. Why don’t they say $100 down? They don’t, because you probably wouldn’t buy the phone. Precisely the same reason they post signs for $19.99 rather than $20.00. Sounds so much less but that penny isn’t going to buy you much. I said fine. What is one to do? At any rate, it’s on it’s way. Meanwhile, I am sending up smoke signals in the front yard if I need to get a message to someone. Next, I called my phone provider to inquire about my land line. The representative at the phone company said it was probably a line problem. If it is a line problem, they pay for it. If not, the customer does. (That would be me.) I could sign up for a maintenance agreement for a mere blah blah blah monthly. Could I? Ahhhhh, I miss the good old days when you went to the phone company and picked out a phone, took it home, plugged it in, and if anything went wrong they either sent a repairman or gave you a new phone. Life was good. The more complicated the technology, the more expensive either the repair or replacement becomes. The rep also said to check the line they would have to shut down my phones which most likely would result in the need to reset all my TV’s, computers etc. connected to the phone line. I’m pretty sure that is a nightmare waiting to happen. Guess I can tolerate a little tinfoil for a bit.

Putting the phone situation to bed, I sat down at my laptop. I was told recently it’s lifetime is also getting shorter, and I would have to invest in a new one within the next year or so. Okie. The sound system has suddenly developed a hiccough where it comes and goes at random. Each week I have a Zoom meeting and this week I missed easily half of it. The other participants were tiring of me saying “could you repeat that please”. Sorry. Do you suppose the angels are sending me a message? That’s what someone suggested to me. Who am I to say? It is odd every one of my electronic devices is having sound problems. Maybe I’m supposed to be hearing something I’m missing? If so, I’M LISTENING. Oh, too loud? I’m listening.

I also spent some sleepless nights (no pun intended) agonizing over whether to dish out some cold cash for a new bed, finally caving (because I was literally) I dug out my credit card and wiped off the mold. Ouch. Rick and I bought this bed when we were first together. The mattress has never been replaced and Boo and I are having trouble finding our happy place at night to drift off to sleep. It’s a California King, which is a lot of bed for one small human and a chubby feline. Also, my bedroom is too small for a bed of this size so I had to push it against one wall to make it work. I am worn out doing my aerobics routine every week in order to change the sheets. There is an odd sadness in me at the thought of seeing the bed go out the front door. Another piece of the puzzle of my old life being replaced by something new, but it feels right. Some nights I feel as if I am sinking into the great abyss when I turn over on my side, and my back is starting to complain when I have to climb out of it in the morning. Time for a change. I asked if the delivery guys would take the old mattress. I was told they would if it had no stains and was in a bag. A bag? What, I have to wrap it? Is one of them having a birthday? Someone should have told me. I don’t think I have any tissue that size. Determining there were no stains, I went to Amazon. God bless good old Amazon. I believe if I searched for flea powder specific to Koala bears, I would find it on Prime. Finding what I needed, I ordered the appropriate bags. I suppose I could have opted to take it to the dump myself but I don’t think it would have squeezed into the back seat of my Fusion. The problem with buying a smaller bed, I bought a queen, is now I have gorgeous sheets and linens that don’t fit the new bed. Again, dusting off my credit card, I purchased all the accoutrements necessary for a queen size bed and signed my life away. Ah well. It’s going to be great. That’s me, telling me, I’m okay.

Update, my new phone just showed up on my front porch. The phone rep spent some time relating explicit instructions in so far that they would not deliver the phone due to it’s value (I have paid less for cars), if I wasn’t here to sign for it. Yet, miracle of miracles, there it was sitting on my front porch ripe for picking. Glad I was home. I would have been seriously irritated to find a notice of delivery in my email with no phone in sight. Also, I paid extra to have it delivered quickly, so there’s that.

Sometimes life keeps sending messages your way and you have to clean the wax out of your ears to catch them. What the messages are in this case, I have no single clue, but I am listening intently. I don’t mean to be impolite, but I wish they would speak up. I had my hearing checked recently and the results weren’t pretty. Years of earphones jammed in my ears transcribing letters, apparently did not serve me well. It’s not like I’m deaf, but certain tones are definitely fading. I have one dear friend who is in the habit of beginning what she is saying in a loud and clear voice, then dropping down to what I call her “conspiratorial tone” at the end of her sentences. I always find myself looking around in case the FBI is in the vicinity and we’re under surveillance. We have had discussions about this, because I find myself saying “pardon me” on a fairly regular basis with her, but it’s pretty much embedded in her behavior patterns at this point. She’s a generous word sharer like myself, so like Rick used to say when I was chatting away in the car, “if I miss a word or two, the earth is not going to stop rotating”. Thank you Sweetie.

Tomorrow, I get my second Covid vaccination. I hope it is kinder to me than the first, which created two rough days of symptoms before easing up. In two weeks I can hug my grandchildren, so I will show up for the appointment and deal with whatever comes with it. Yay.

People are having mask burning parties. I’m a little more cautious. It still surprises me we continue to make mask wearing a political issue rather than a medical issue. You’d think they were asking us to pull on a suit if armor before leaving the house rather a small piece of fabric. I just roll with the waves these days. This will pass and life will return to normal, or whatever normal is.

Have a great Sunday. Beautiful here so definitely a walk in my future. Thank you again for signing up and for those of you who tune in regularly.

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I haven’t written in awhile. Life has been unusually hectic the past few weeks, leaving little spare time to sit at my computer. Don’t ask me what I’ve been doing, I probably couldn’t tell you in great detail. All I can say is somehow, each day managed to fill up to the brim as it folded into the next.

When I hit OVERLOAD on my time management scale, things begin to go south for me. Today, for example, I got up early and went for a walk. As is my habit, I grabbed the key to the house off the hook by the door, tucking it in my sweatshirt pocket. Stepping outside, the temperature was far colder than I’d anticipated. Only having on a light hoodie, I went back in the house to retrieve a heavier jacket from the closet. Turning the lock on the door before closing it, I enjoyed a brisk tour of the neighborhood, circling back to the house about forty-five minutes later. Normally, this would be just a day in the life of. Possibly it could even be considered yawn worthy, if not for the fact I’d neglected to retrieve the key from the pocket of the hoodie I originally had on. Duh, and double duh. I walked up to the door and tried the knob What? I know I locked it. Human nature being what it is, even knowing it was locked, I had to test it. You know I did. Tight as a drum. Yup, good job, Susie. I had a duplicate key made for such occasions. Peering into the also locked living room window I could see it hooked on the ring with my car keys. Perhaps I need to refine the thinking on that program? Both keys hanging on the same hook probably shouldn’t be Plan A. Fortunately, I had my cell phone. Like every electronic device I have ever owned, it is currently suffering from technical issues. Basically, I can’t hear an incoming caller unless I put them on speaker. Putting someone on speaker is not an option I always enjoy. One never knows what one might be doing while speaking on the phone. Also, I don’t want the cat listening in, you know how nosy felines can be. Before taking it in to Apple to get a tech involved, I decided to search on line for solutions. What did we do pre-Internet, I wonder? The answers to every question posed since the dawn of man seems to be found there. I performed all the suggested “fixes” noted on the tech driven websites. End result, you ask? I can’t hear anyone unless they are on speaker. Drat. Not the time to worry about the speaker as it wasn’t getting any warmer, I assessed my situation, Clearly, there were two choices. Either I could pitch a tent in the yard and wait it out until my roommate arrived home in 24 hours, or I could call my landlady and ask her to let me in. Sigh. So high school. Sometimes I think I need a keeper. Swallowing my pride, as my feet were getting colder, I placed the call to my landlady explaining my dilemma. She said she was in a meeting but could be at the house within the hour. Super. Thankfully, I had put on a warmer jacket because by the time her car pulled up, my feet had stopped receiving signals from my circulatory system.

Once inside I thawed out. Warming my hands on a cup of hot coffee, I laid my day out in front of me. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow so I needed to pick up a few cards and some candy for my mother. I figured I could squeeze that errand in the mix somewhere between the bank and the grocery store. Curious as to how the proceedings were going, I switched on the impeachment trial. There’s a happy way to jump start one’s day. I have limited my news input to no more than an hour a day. Immersing myself in what’s going on in our government at the moment will have me dusting off my green card and heading north for the Canadian border. Eternally optimistic, I still keep my fairy dust spreader primed and ready to go in the event our elected officials miraculously locate their moral spines and do what is right for our country rather than what is right for themselves personally. Fingers and toes crossed. Oh update on this, you can uncross all digits, their moral spines are still missing and remain unaccounted for. Wow. That’s all, just WOW.

Even before getting locked out, this week proved a bit of a bust. Yesterday, for example, I went to my bi-monthly hair appointment. Some women find days at the salon relaxing. I am not one of them. Not by nature a “sit still” kind of gal, killing time in a salon chair with goo and tin foil slapped on my head is not my idea of a fun filled afternoon. Armed with a new book and a bottle of water, I conferred with my stylist before getting started with the dye job about the direction my hair color was heading. My first stylist at this salon, Emily, moved on down the road last summer. Without consulting me or a thought to how I’d look, she picked up her family and relocated to a beautiful big house on a lake to provide a better life for her kids. Some people are so self focused. Hah. Before leaving, she recommended a replacement. This was tough on me, as I had just gotten her broken in. Women reading will understand this, it takes a while to break in a new hair dresser. Emily had been the perfect fit for me. Sarah was doing a pretty good job getting up to speed, but my “do” is not exactly how I like it yet. In trying to explain what I wanted, I included visuals of models with my basic hair cut colored the way I would like to see mine. Not rocket science really. Blonde highlights with light brown undertones. Easy peasy. One would think. When Sarah applied the color, it looked dark. Inquiring about the depth of color, I was told not to worry my little blonde head about it, Sarah was at the wheel. Kay. Forty minutes later the color was rinsed off and I was seated in front of the mirror. Not only was my hair now a deep reddish brown (emphasis on the red), but it was highlighted with thin whitish strands giving it the look of a large plate of spaghetti with meat sauce. All I needed was a dash of Parmesan and I was good to go. Oh yay. The look on my face made it obvious, I’m sure, to Sarah this was not going to end well. In response to my expression she commented, “don’t freak out”. “Kay. Why not exactly? I would like to freak out, and then I would like to cry, in that order.” Good lord. Several other products were applied in an attempt to tone down the red. In spite of her valiant efforts, I remained looking like an ad for an Italian restaurant. Along with my hair having a decided maroon tinge, my scalp now matched the color perfectly and had begun to itch from all the chemicals. Check please.

In the end, I was sent home with apologetic assurances Sarah would fit me in post haste to fix the problem. Great, does that assurance come with a bag to wear over my head in the meantime? Texting her this morning I asked when the fix might be done, to which she replied four hours later, “how about next Friday”? To which I replied, “how about, not”. Now, I never fault people for making mistakes. We all are human and, therefore, each of us fallible. However, if you do make a mistake…..if possible, fix it. Sarah made several wrong turns in dealing with her customer (namely me) in my humble opinion. Number one, she allowed me to stew in my own juices for four hours, and number two, she suggested resolving a problem she created at her convenience rather than mine. Both of these mistakes are likely to make someone who started out a bit reasonably annoyed to move the dial quickly over to really pissed off. I’m just saying. I used to train the serving staff in our restaurant. My first instruction was always acknowledge the customer. No matter how busy you are, at least stop and explain you are aware they are waiting, ask if they can get them a beverage, and get to them as expediently as you can. So, after I did not budge on sooner than later, we compromised on Wednesday. Momma ain’t happy, but it is what it is. Glad we have to wear masks at the moment at least I won’t be recognized.

I guess I should consider myself lucky. You may have read about that poor woman who sprayed gorilla glue on her hair because she was out of hair spray. I will say nothing here about why she would make such an obviously poor choice, as this lady has suffered enough. To get the glue off her hair, required a two and a half hour medical procedure. Rick would have completely understood finding oneself in such a mess. Seriously, the man could not be left alone with Crazy Glue.There should have been a warning label on the side of the tube saying “This product not recommended for men answering to the name of Rick”. Sometimes it was like having a big kid. When I handed him the tube I specifically cautioned him not to get any glue on his skin. Two minutes later I heard the dreaded words “oh-oh”. Going back to where he was standing I found him staring at his right hand. He had adhered his thumb to his index and middle finger and they were securely fused. To inject some humor in the situation, I told him his hand was set up perfectly for making rooster finger puppets should the need arise in the future. He assured me he saw no humor or comfort in this. Saving the day, the infinite internet provided a solution and after an hour and a half we were able to undo what he had done. Adding insult to injury, he had dropped the glue container on his new pants. True to the hype it was “permanent” and it was now firmly and undeniably attached to the fabric. While trying to get it off, Rick tore a large hole in the pant leg and we ended up tossing them in the garbage. Lesson learned.

I also launched a full on assault on Covid-19 vaccination sites this past week. My doctor suggested I needed to get the shots as soon as possible as they were now available for my age group and I have asthma. What a process. I felt like a kid trying to score a seat at a wildly popular concert. I’d log on, get on a site, and before I could book a spot that time and day would disappear. Can’t tell you how many times I did that. I’m nothing if not tenacious. After two days it became a sort of quest. Persistence paid off, and I finally got an appointment for Monday, as well as the follow up shot three weeks after that. I feel like I won the lottery. So, I am not sorry to say sayonara to this week in my life, although I do hear my grandmother whispering in my ear, “don’t wish your life away”.

Make it a safe one. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all and to my Rick, this will be my third Valentine’s Day without him.

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This promises to be a more than mildly interesting month. On the 20th, our new president will step up to the podium for the first time in his new role. This week, our sitting president was impeached for the second time, making him the first president for the history books to receive such an honor. The scent of change lingers in the air, commingled with the unsettling murmurs of unrest. On the 6th of this month, citizens of the United States laid siege to the capital building for the purpose of attacking their fellow Americans, resulting in the loss of five lives. Covid-19 still rules the teleprompters at the news centers with people succumbing to it in record numbers. 2020, to most people’s minds a year of firsts and uneven lines, may have nothing on 2021.

There is a lot of information floating around in our world at the moment. Conspiracy theories are blowing up among the far right fueled by bad intel fed by people in positions of trust. The recent uprising in Washington D.C. highlights how quickly information can be spread, be it truth or lies, with the technology available to almost everyone these days. Distorted or tweaked information can move across the nation at lightning speed, changing and morphing depending on who is passing it on and in what direction their general belief structure might lean. Let’s face it, what you want to hear, generally is the easiest news to accept.

All this twisted truth reminds me of a game we used to play as kids. Seated in a large circle, one person was selected to go first. They whispered a sentence of their choosing in the ear of whoever was seated next to them. In turn, that person passed on what they heard to the next person, and so on. When it reached the person last in line, they repeated aloud what they had heard. The more people in the circle, the more distorted the original message tended to become. How much the intent of the original statement changed by the time it was repeated by the last player, always surprised me.

Gossip moves along at warp speed as well. As it moves along the information highway passing from one friend or associate to another, it grows and shifts from the original story depending on the person sharing the story and their point of view. There’s positive tale telling. For example, “Did you hear Penelope’s daughter got married? I hear the ceremony was just beautiful.” As always there are two sides to the coin. If there is positive, stands to reason there will be negative. People’s lives have been virtually destroyed by people spreading malicious or untrue information about them. Gossip is an insidious undertaking. Conspiratol in nature, it usually gets going when one person is chosen as the target for several peoples wagging tongues. It may be based on fact, it may be based on perception, or lastly, it could be fabricated ideas springing forth from a person’s imagination. Whether one, two, or three of the above is true, often it can prove hurtful for the person being talked about and always it reflects on the character of those doing the talking. Now, I’m not going to say I have never gossiped. If I did, you would probably be shaking your heads saying “Come on, Susie. We know better”. I don’t like to gossip, but sometimes I get drawn into a story or pass one on when I would be better served just to keep my nose firmly centered in my own business rather than sniffing about in others. My daughter always tells me I’m no fun to gossip with. Usually I defend the person being talked about, or don’t participate with enough enthusiasm to make it entertaining for the other parties.

Gossip can be simple simple neighborhood stuff, fairly innocent in nature. The sort of offhand comments one might hear said, say, after church service, from one person to the next. Things like, “Did you see the dress Sharon had on today? They really shouldn’t use bold prints on larger sizes.” If Sharon heard that comment she might have her feelings hurt or even get rid of the dress. If she knew the source of the comment she might choose to avoid the ladies who said it. Most of the time this type of gossip doesn’t do significant damage. Lately in our country, however, we are slinging insults and meanness around like it was a free for all. The truth is manipulated according to how it will serve the person saying it. Seems like there are no boundaries any more as to what we will do or say in the name of country. Our moral compass has gone askew and the leaders in government have become so divided. Left unguided by the powers that be, it leaves our lives seeming to lack direction and without a clear understanding of which direction we are headed. It reminds me of the atrocities during the middle ages perpetuated by powerful men in the name of the church. Very little “Christian” behavior was exhibited during the so called holy wars.

I always told my children, “Be careful what you say. Words are powerful tools. Once you wield them, you cannot take them back.” This includes the written word. When you commit your words to paper, email, text, social media, wherever, they become part of the fabric. You cannot remove the stitches and start over again. Apologies are helpful, but when it comes to a grave situation such as is occurring in our nation’s capitol now, just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t really erase the debt.

Being responsible for your actions is at the top of my list. If you have done something, own it. It is yours and all the finger pointing, diversion, and avoiding it does make it any less so. I remember when my son was small I took him with me into a convenience store while I picked up a couple of things I needed. When we walked up to the cashier, I handed the man behind the counter my items. After ringing the items up he said, “Is that all?”. I nodded my head in the affirmative. Then he said, “I don’t think so”. I had no idea what the man was talking about. He pointed to my little boy standing at my side. A very red and embarrassed face looked back up at me. What? “Check his pockets”, the man went on. My son, turning his pockets out, handed me about 6 packages of chewing gum with baseball cards he had apparently liberated from the store’s shelves. Oh-oh. I told the man I would pay for the pilferage and he added the cards to my bag. Once outside, my son and I stood at the trash can and opened each package and deposited the contents one by one into the bin. In the car, I told him he would pay for the cards out of his allowance until he had paid for them in full. He always remembered that lesson.

It’s so easy to look at other people’s behavior and point a finger or consider yourself right and them wrong. At this point I think it is paramount to figure out how to include more than one way to win the game in the playbook and come to some sort of middle ground while cohabiting in this large and diverse country. Personally, I think we need to reboot the United States much in the same way you would a TV or a computer. Go back, slow down the rhetoric, and reduce the steam coming out of the pot. Bang the drum slowly.

My thoughts for a Friday. Make it a safe one. I will go back to my usual writing now, but I felt like everyone involved in this craziness right now either becomes part of the solution, or remains part of the problem.

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Since I got up, rain has been steadily falling. I do love rainy days. Growing up in Nova Scotia, scruffy overcast skies were not an unfamiliar sight to me. On blustery days such as today, waves crashed angrily against the craggy shores of the province and gray skies were reflected in the dark churning waters below. There was an element of excitement to watching the clouds move in, I always found exciting. The raw power of nature, in particular the ocean, has drawn me to it as far back as I can remember. When the forces of nature come to bear, we are made small. Outbursts manifest themselves in many forms. Vengeful, wind driven tornadoes, that rip and tear at the landscape. Swirling tubes of destruction tossing buildings to and fro as if they were leaves whisked up an afternoon breeze. Tsunamis formed by tremors beneath the sea creating huge surges of water pushing towards the shore. Waves encroaching on our land masses, hungrily sucking up everything in their way. Violent earthquakes rending gaping crevices in the earth’s face, capable of reducing tall skyscrapers to their knees. Never should you underestimate the sheer strength of Mother Nature when she is dead set on unleashing her havoc.

Having lived all over the U.S. at one time or another I’ve experienced a lot of different climates each different from the rest. While living in Arkansas, for example, tornado warnings popped up regularly on the television screen. Migrating there from California I was surprised to find rain fell during the summer months, a phenomenon rarely experienced living on the west coast. Sunny days in California rarely yielded to even as much as the lightest dusting of rain, unless it was overflow from a gyrating lawn sprinkler. The day I arrived in Arkansas for the first time, it was mid July. My husband at the time, David, and I were moving to Ashdown for a job at a lumber mill expected to last about a year and a half. David was a pipe fitter by trade. We were considered construction bums, if you will. Craftsmen who traveled from job to job, filling a need as it arose. It was hot that day. Hot, hot, hot. The temperature, at least according to the weather girl on the morning news, would be stretching upwards towards 108. Factor in humidity, around 95%, and trust me it felt far hotter.

My first impression of the state was of the prolific and vibrantly green vegetation. Everywhere you looked there was lush foliage. Much of what I was seeing, I was told, was Kudzu. Kudzu had overrun that part of the world at the time, crawling like the slinking vine it was over anything and everything standing in its way. About an hour after crossing the border from Oklahoma into Arkansas, we decided to stop for lunch. Signs posted along the road advertised a diner serving “Down Home Food” coming up in the next town. Following the signs we pulled into the parking lot of a small establishment with a much larger sign announcing “Diner This Way” blinking above an arrow pointing towards the front door. I might have figured out how to get inside without such explicit instructions, but I appreciated the effort taken. If we were hoping for a little cool air once inside, we were to be disappointed. Warm stale air combined with the smell of cooking oil swept over us as we walked through the door. A sweating swamp cooler hummed behind the reception area and three ceiling fans rotated in the center of the room, all seeming to have little effect. To the right as you entered, was a long line of red vinyl stools, customers occupying about half of them. To the left of the counter were booths of varying sizes arranged next to the bank of windows facing the street. A glass tower stood by the reception desk with tiers of partially cut pies resting inside. A fly lazily buzzed around the lemon meringue giving me an excellent reason to pass on dessert. A tall, thin waitress with a folded hanky pinned on the front of her uniform that read “Betty Lynn” showed us to the one remaining unoccupied booth. Handing us two well loved plastic covered menus, I asked for an glass of iced tea, heavy on the ice. Before she went off to greet the next customer she brought us up to speed on the specials of the day recommending the cheeseburgers. Once two cheeseburgers with fries had been ordered, David excused himself to find the men’s room. Looking around, I felt as if we had stepped back twenty years. Felix the cats protruding eyes and tail moved back and forth ticking off the minutes on the back wall. Album covers covered the rest of the wall featuring artists like Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl and Buck Owens. A large window broke up the wall between the albums and the busing station behind which the cooks could be seen moving back and forth across the grill. At each booth, and equally spaced along the counter there were miniature jukeboxes, one tuned to Elvis singing “Love Me Tender”.

Betty Lynn returned to the table to place a tall sweating glass of tea with a wedge of lemon drooped over it’s lip in front of me. Sipping thirstily on the straw, when the liquid hit my taste buds they dispatched an immediate message to my brain SWEET. The tea was so sugary, the texture more resembled syrup. I signaled Betty Lynn and asked if I could have unsweetened tea. She eyed me suspiciously, saying “you’re not from around here are you”? Why no, does it show? Apparently the only iced tea they had was sweet tea, so I opted for ice water and we moved on. B.L. was a little less friendly after that.

David having returned from the restroom seemed to find all this amusing. I had a feeling this was to be only the tip of the iceberg of the experiences I was to have south of the Mason-Dixon line. While we were putting away what turned out to be to Betty Lynn’s credit, “one delicious burger”, the sky outside shifted from bright blue to menacingly black. Several strong claps of thunder shook the building before the sky opened up and released a downpour so intense the plummeting drops actually hit the pavement then ricocheted back on themselves. People in the parking lot covered their heads and ran for cover. Within minutes, the entire parking lot surface was inundated with water so brown it appeared to be milk chocolate. Then, as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped, the sun came out from behind the clouds, and steam began to rise from the puddles. Steam rose from the cars, the roofs of the buildings, I’m telling you, it was a gen-u-ine steam fest. Can you say sauna boys and girls? No one seemed to notice the dramatic shift in climate but me. David said for the locals, this was simply another day in the neighborhood. Oh. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto”.

Walking back out into the blast furnace outside after paying for our meal, the pungent smell of wet and rotting vegetation lay heavy in the air. Already feeling overheated, I hopped in the car planting my bare legs directly on the sizzling grill that once had served as my car seat. I swear, I smelled bacon cooking. Oink. Assured by David once again I would acclimate to the heat and humidity once I lived there for awhile, I gently peeled my legs off the leather seats and wondered if there would end up being any truth in that statement. This too shall come to be revealed.

I shall continue my weather report in my next post. For now I want to take a harsh swing right and look at the mess our country is in at the moment. What a week! For someone like me who rarely plants in front of the television for hours, I believe I actually have eye strain from switching back and forth between CNN and the other news channels. There are so many applicable adjectives here. Ummmm, unbelievable, unreal, unamerican, unacceptable, but you can’t really include unexpected. People surprise me when they are shocked. The situation has been escalating one bad act at a time. Smoke signals have been rising up from the mother ship for the last four years. I hope everyone involved in this, what was truly an attempted coup of our democracy, gets prosecuted. I won’t say more. And by the way, where were the police? I’m surprised they didn’t escort them in and offer them coffee. We’re all entitled to believe what we choose, which is the foundation on which this democracy was built on to begin with. However, I will finish with saying, “enough is enough”. I don’t care which side you lean towards, this isn’t acceptable ever. This goes way beyond annoying self-serving narcissistic behavior. Let’s do the right thing for the right reasons. The rats are deserting the sinking ship as we watch all this unfold. Allegiances are switching faster than playing cards in a magicians hand. Too late people, we’ve already seen who you are. The following quote couldn’t be more apt for the situation in the United States at the moment.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Stay safe. Back to Arkansas in my next post. Again, thanks for stopping by.

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My heart goes out to those overworked healthcare care workers practically begging us not to travel to friends and family over the holidays. Good news, all but 84 million of us paid attention to the warnings. Sigh. We really can’t deny ourselves. Even with the vaccine on it’s way to relieve some of the stress the virus has placed on our country, people will do what people want to do.

Aside from all the Covid saturating the news, the less than peaceful transition of power looms heavy in the headlines. For those of you who have ever ridden a jet ski and fallen off, that’s what the end of this year with our government feels like to me. No rider at the controls and everybody going around in circles. “Jet ski”, you say? A jet ski, is essentially a water motorcycle. Not all, but some, manufacturers have a built in function wherein if the driver falls off while the jet ski is in the water the vehicle will turn to the right and circle so the rider can swim to retrieve it. Just so you know.

Speaking for myself, I’m starting to believe we should do a clean sweep in Washington and start from scratch when it comes to our legislators. Some of these old dogs need to be moved out to allow room for some new blood and fresh ideas to take their place. The government, like my house after my taking a month off to recover from the virus, is in need a serious deep cleaning.

I am steadily regaining my pre-Covid stamina and my brain fog seems to be lifting. Always I have been a being of high energy and having lost that for a while was disconcerting. I seem to find myself in the kitchen a lot these days. After Rick passed, hard to believe it was two and a half years ago, I lost interest in cooking. However, my enthusiasm has been rekindled since finding myself restricted the house for so long during 2020. My size 2 pants gathering dust in my closet, will testify to the fact I haven’t been missing any meals of late.

Too many people out there are struggling this holiday season. I feel immensely grateful to be here celebrating the passing of another year and to have leftovers in my refrigerator from my Christmas dinner, and a roof above my head to keep the rain off.

Over my lifetime like most people, I have experienced times of peaks and times of valleys. At the time they felt more like insurmountable peaks and bottomless crevices than blips in the road. Always though, when it was darkest, the clouds parted allowing shards of sunlight to shine through. This year has definitely been a deep dip on the chart, but I hold on to the knowledge at some point somewhere down the road life will be bright again. Spring with all its glorious rebirth and rejuvenation has always followed a brutally cold winter.

Someone asked me the other day why there has to be so much human suffering. Why anyone might suppose I hold the key to this door I can’t imagine. The answer, or one I’ve heard proposed often, is without suffering how would we recognize bliss? Yin and yang. Balance in all things in nature. I try not to stay too long on that train of thought, because once I hop on board, I find it difficult to see a destination in sight. There are so many unanswered questions in this world. I would hazard a guess after populating this planet for hundreds of years the things we don’t know still vastly outweigh what we do. If you wade too deeply into this pool, you will end up under water. There is no Alex Trabeck standing by the board to reveal the answer once you have posed the question. Sadly, there is no Alex Trabeck in the picture at all, at least in his physical being. I shall miss him.

There are many questions I would ask at the end of this eventful year. For example, why are our highest elected officials (and I emphasize the word elected here- serving at the will if the people) out on the golf course whining about their lot in life while so many citizens across the country are going to bed hungry? I liken it to while watching your house burn to the ground while you draw your 9 iron out of your bag and hit it to the green. Lack of understanding as to why you put in a place of high authority in the first place. Basically, to PROTECT and SERVE, and this does not mean yourself. Nero had nothing on these folks with his fiddling while Rome incinerated. At least he was crazy, although that piece of the puzzle may fit in some instances in this puzzle as well. It does seem a bit like the world has gone mad. I’m just saying.

We managed to pull Christmas out of the hat at our house in spite of the many roadblocks. One after one, all the splinter groups in our family checked in virtually. We shared present opening and some much needed laughs. Though unspoken, I think all of us were missing being able to reach out to one another for a hug or two, but at least we were as to together as the situation safely allowed. I pared down my usual prime rib to filet mignon served with sautéed mushrooms, twice baked potatoes, hercot verts and cheddar and apple pie for dessert. It was delish, if I do say so myself, and apparently I just did. So many families were facing an empty chair at their holiday tables, so I will be thankful again and again all my faces were accounted for.


One thing of note about these trying times I have noticed, has been the kindness and generosity people have extended to one another. Even on a personal level, I have seen this over and over and heard similar stories from friends and loved ones of simple acts of kindness. It is heartwarming. Truly, or sadly depending on your point of view, we humans are at our best when at our worst.

I hope your Christmas was a success. One more week and we can put 2020 officially to bed, yay. That, is definitely a reason to break out the fireworks!!


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