Thursday, January 31, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Regarding My Prior Post...

Seems that yesterdays post created a butterfly effect and that ripple that the other blogger created was far more significant than mine!!  Please go here and pat this woman on the back...better yet, give her a hug.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Touching Souls

Yes, we finally got some of the white stuff.
I have had a series of medical tests lately.  I have not written about them because this path of discovery is nothing serious and I am remaining optimistic for a solution.  The symptoms are vague and hardly debilitating and therefore not worth the tale.  But the doctor's visits are.

I was waiting in line in one office to pick up some documentation to take to another doctor, when the body movements of the elderly man in front of me caused me to breathe in quickly.  He had the same body build of my dad and the same body language.  When he turned to his wife, an elderly woman in a wheel chair with a left leg amputation, handing her some paperwork and speaking in a soft gravely voice, it completed the deja vu.  Suddenly tears came to my eyes.  His gentle and self-conscious manner so reminded me of my dad that I was going to start crying right there in the reception area.  I had to turn and sit down in a corner of the room until I caught my breath.

The man gently turned the wheel chair and pushed it toward the door leaning across his wife's lap to push down on the door handle.  He asked quietly of his wife is she was ready to hold the door open with her foot.  I jumped up and held it open for them trying to hide my tears.  They both thanked me and went on their way to the parking lot not noticing anything amiss.

The next day I was picking up some blood test results from another doctor's office, and after getting the paperwork, was deep in thought about a short drive I had to take to a nearby town for a meeting that I was attending.  A 40-ish woman dressed casually, hair in a pony tail, and wearing sun glasses preceeded me into the elevator.  There were only two floors to this medical building so she pushed the lower button back to the parking lot for the both of us.  Then she broke the silence by staring at the elevator buttons and saying in a broken voice, "I just got some bad news."

"I am so sorry." I replied suddenly giving her my full attention.

"I have to go into the hospital."  She looked at me with her dark sunglasses and I could not read her eyes.

"That is such sad news, but I am sure you will be fine."  I added ignorant of her illness.

She touched her right arm.  "I have a deep vein thrombosis in my arm.  I am so scared."  She held back a sob.

 "That is scary."  I said.  "But they have so many great technologies these days, I am sure you will be back home soon."

"I am just afraid."

I hesitated not sure what to add.   "You need a hug."  I wrapped her in a big hug thinking she may be going home alone to no one to touch her or cheer her up.

She sobbed a little and thanked me.

As we left the elevator she smiled and thanked me again for my love.  "I just thought these things only happened in your legs."  I knew I was taking a chance bringing a political figure into the conversation, but was trying to hard to find something to encourage her, so I added "Hillary Clinton just recovered from a serious clot in her brain and she is doing fine."

We reached our cars and she turned once again, thanked me a third time and then said "She did, didn't she?"

I thought about that woman all the way home and thanked the energies that prevail that I was there and that she did not have to ride that elevator alone.  I was so glad to be there.

And, yes, my medical issues stand insignificant.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mutual Concessions

Yes, I am basking in the warm feeling of the inauguration of the man I voted for.  But I still have close conservative friends who really think our President is going to bring this country to its knees.  Since the former President already did that, I cannot even begin to understand their concern.  My conservative friends are smart and hard working and devout and wonderful people...well, one of them has an obsessive compulsive disorder in fearing germs ...really, but as a medical doctor I will forgive him his use of cases of paper towels.  I just wish I could crawl inside their heads.

I understand the fear of socialism.  It is, like communism, an ideal that if left unguarded, can ruin a democracy.  I would like to see more control over welfare programs and unemployment benefits.  Many lazy folks take advantage and I need to do more research on this.  I think the earned benefit programs need to remain supported though.  It seems that Paul Ryan has indicated that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme" which is a gross misinterpretation on his part.  Yet, Representative Ryan used the same benefits of this "Ponzi scheme" to get through college.  So, send me a politician who is not rich and/or has not taken advantage of any government program and I will be willing to listen to his/her side of the story.  If they can prove to me that most people on these programs are lazy and refuse to work than I will begin to understand their fear. 

If there is a man who lost his job at the age of 60 and who for 8 months looks for a job, and gets discouraged with being turned away time and again, and finally says he will just collect unemployment and wait until he can get his social security benefits, do you begrudge him this failure to continue to search for work...if he has worked hard all his life?  I know someone who is doing to do this.  I cannot judge him.

I know there is common ground.  It seems that a meeting of the Tea Party and the Move-On founder  opened a window recently. This little snippet gives me hope. We may always disagree on any number of significant issues, but we really are good people under all the rhetoric and we really can compromise on most of the issues in a way that can move this country forward.  If we keep the moneyed lobbyists out of the argument, I fee that we can reach reasonable compromises.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


After we removed the Christmas tree we were finally able to move our breakfast-lunch-formal-informal table back in the bay window area.  Prior to that I lifted the tree rug that covered the central space and noticed this which falls directly below the single leg stand of our table:

Hubby calls these little finds "spider spit."  I think that is not a scientific or technical term.  But if you live in the woods you will find these spider droppings beneath your window ledges, under your cabinet toe stops and behind those doors that you leave open most of the time.  They usually have delicate webs hanging above them and my grandson is the first to notice these when he visits and he is crawling around looking for some small toy that has rolled behind or under something.  It looks like I never clean house, which I do and often.  Some look like little beads and others like what they actually are!  But I will tell you that NASA is missing a phenomenal chemistry here.  These are harder than rocks and hang tighter than super clue to wherever they land.

Do you have spider spit?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Renewed and Improved

This winter has seemed like Ground Hog Day...all winter long.  The days are dark and unusually short.  I swear this year they seem much shorter than ever, maybe 4 hours long.  We get a few days of sunshine, but most are just gray.  Sometimes it rains all day long.  But even with these slight differences each day seems almost the same as each day before with no new edges or harsh angles.  I do tend to get a mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder this time of year.  I understand why Scandinavian literature is so plodding and sad.

My usual reaction is to curl up on the couch in "seasonal-change-wait" mode and read or watch TV.  I have edited all of my recent photos and there is nothing new to play with as you can take only so many photos of birds and gray trees.  This is the season of boredom and depression.  No wonder the entire nation is arguing about guns instead of poverty and jobs or chocolate cake and wine.  (We own 2 guns, have no fear of anyone taking them, and are pro-gun control, of course.)

I got so bored a few days ago that I cleaned the two bathrooms downstairs toothbrush clean---actually using an old toothbrush at times.  Everything that wasn't bolted down was taken out and every corner was scrubbed.  Every rug was washed, every wall artwork dusted, every light fixture polished.  I threw away toothbrushes and extra lotions I hadn't used in years.  I even organized the drawers.  I turned on all the lights teasing the sun to come out.  Boy am I bored!

Then just when I was ready to start taking drugs, I woke early one morning to an unusual golden light peaking at my eyelids and saw this!  I could not contain myself, grabbed my camera and ran in slipper-socks to the dock.  My socks became heavy squishy sponges as I cross wet grass and wet wood, but the temperature was not brutally cold, just bearable.  I stood on the dock in my new white Christmas bathrobe and wet feet looking like a giant poodle with black paws and snapped away in wonder.  I even had time to look at the sky and enjoy the moment.  There were two and one was complete.

Today they are predicting snow!!  I am really excited for another change!  It seems that I will survive.  My hearing will improve.  (Oh, the prior post was about Justin Timberlake's new song "Suit and Tie.")

Monday, January 14, 2013

Senior Moments

I am eating breakfast and only listening with one ear to the news host.  I turn to hubby who is beginning to spread butter on his English muffin.

"Did she just say 'Soup and Salad'?" I ask.

Hubby turns his head toward me.  "Nope, she said 'Soup and Thai.  I am sure."

"'Soup and Thai?'"  I look at the TV screen.  "That can't be right.  That doesn't make any sense."

"Sounded like 'Soup and Thai' to me."

"Oh well, I don't buy his music anyway."  I say as I finish my coffee.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Asylum

Yes, the retirement party was worthwhile.  The person we were honoring is one of those gems in life that those working under her weep at her departure.  She was nurturing, innovative and smart and a very close friend.

BUT I was also under social obligation to stop by my old department up several floors.

My final years I worked for the "guv'ment" in the Washington, D.C. area.  It was a service oriented job rather than research, and I was in a group where I sort of remained on the outside.  I had to bring in my own budget, and most of those I provided service to were not in the office, the building, or even the town.  So I did not work closely with those colleagues in the offices around me.  At times there was jealousy (surprise!) at my ability to have a little more independence with a budget.

But also, some days I really felt I was working in an asylum in my immediate department.  There were a handful of colleagues that were hardworking, professional and with whom I had a very collegial relationship.  Most of them moved on before me.  There were others that had serious personal problems.  #1 was emotionally unstable.  Some days she was friendly and some days she would bite your head off for no particular reason.  #2 was very competitive about her program and secretive.  I did win her over toward the end and she and I worked on a project or two successfully. #3 (the retiring program supervisor) was good at the job and did hold the unit together, but when she got bored she liked to play mind games with her staff and watch the chaos.  #5 (the new program supervisor) was treading water until his retirement and had no desire to manage anyone when he came on board and he hid in his office. #6 the office secretary was everybody's mother.   She had a million of her own life problems (money, live-in lover, divorcing son, etc.) but she always wanted to solve everyone's calamities rather than do her job.  She was out sick a LOT.  #7 also had serious mental problems.  She was cute and sweet, but behind the scenes she was frequently attaching herself to any new project and hung on for dear life trying to pretend she was making a contribution.  Once a contractor got in a shouting match with her across from my cubicle because she kept messing with his project.  She spent time telling tales on others and blowing things out of proportion.  She had a panic attack in one meeting and created a rift between another person and I that was totally unexpected until I saw how she liked to drive wedges.  She and another contractor had an ongoing feud which took up time in too many staff meetings.  When a position opened up for a promotion for her where she had criticized every prior candidate, she backed down and didn't take it, to no one's surprise.  For a full year I tried to develop a relationship with her and then just ignored her as best I could when I realized how dangerous she was.  #8 was in the cubicle near mine and I had to get her permission to use any of our major equipment such as the giant laser printer.  She was strict, demanded genuflecting, gave instructional lectures always and the only way I could get anything out of her was to praise the hell out of her....which I did.  #9 was the cleaning girl who stole food from our lunches in the kitchen.  Some days, you would be missing your lunch.

Everyone else was pretty normal and hardworking if a bit territorial which is not unusual in decades of tight government budgets.  I have maintained a close relationship we a few of these folks and we have even spent days hiking and boating after my retirement.  The night before this retirement celebration all the dysfunctional stuff I had had to deal with while trying to do my job came rushing back like a nightmare and that was the energy in the post below.

I regret that my final years were not spent in a place where people worked together with professional competitiveness but courtesy, where people had common goals, where there was some trust and sense of teamwork.  But, alas, I earned my money the hard way.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Friend's Retirement Parties

I embrace with no reservation
The peacefulness of solitude
and the songs of nature.
Yet for some too much of this
is a breathtaking loneliness
equal to waiting for death.

The mindless little chatter
of long ago acquantenances
fills me with emptyness.
Yet for some it is a
breath of oxygen
and injects lost energies.

The passing years
now clearly paint the obvious
shallowness, fear, and deception.
Yet for some it is
acceptance of imperfections
and silly weaknesses.

The hand extended still shows the scars where it was bitten,
Yet some wounds heal much better than others.

My memories are somewhat harsh
and heavy to recognize.
His memories are nostalgic
and bring surety, and perhaps,
assurance of goals met.

Are we of two imperfect worlds?
Are we of two weak minds?

We are of two imperfect worlds.
We are of two imperfect minds.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Two updates to complicate the post below even more.  I ate out at Olive Garden last night because I wanted to support their support of their employees...and not to put too fine a point on it,  I just wanted to eat out after several weeks of cooking.  Anyway, the waitress comes to our table and asks for our drink order after we get settled.  She proceeds to sneeze into her elbow not once but twice before she can even speak.  She has been out the two prior days due to illness.

Yes, this was extremely off-putting, and if I was more religious, I would say this was a message of some kind from God.  Of course, I had to comment that I was pleased how the Darden franchise had decided to provide their employees with heath care instead of cutting hours.

She smiled ruefully and then said it was great if you could afford it.  Yes, they provided every employee with the opportunity for health coverage, but it was expensive and the coverage was minimal.  Then she said that if she didn't want it she still had to provide herself with health coverage from somewhere else by law. 

I also want to add, after talking to my husband, that my health coverage, which is taken from my pension check prior to my getting it, is also more expensive then I remembered.  My husband and I pay for single, not family, coverage as it saves us about $100 a year.   We are both on Medicare by age, but also must purchase the supplemental for coverage of what Medicare does not pay which is a lot!  We each pay $165.79 a month.  Last year it was $132.21.  This is almost a 25% increase in premium costs if my math is correct.  I could blame this on the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, but I am a pragmatist and think it would have gone up anyway and I do not know for what reason.  My co-pays creep up over the years as well.  Still this insurance is far less than we would pay through Part A and Part B supplimental Medicare insurance to pay for the things that the medicare basic does not cover.  It is similar to what Congress gets.

We also both carry long-term care insurance.  We would get about 3 years coverage each in a nursing home if needed and this costs us about $300 a year each.  We purchased these policies when we wer in our mid-fifties for greater savings   These are somewhat of a gamble, because in decades ahead the insurance company has to be there to pay out if needed and we are gambling that one or both of us will need to spend time in a nursing home.  Our company is large and bonded.

I took care of my mother in her last months in her own home and I took care of my Mother-in-Law in her last years in our home.  But she did have to spend a few months in a nursing home before her death when she required full time nursing care.  I just do not want my children to have to take us in if they cannot.  My father was taken in by my brother for a year before his death.  My Father-in Law spent about a year in a nursing home in Florida.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Food, Glorious Food

Mr. John Schnatter, owner of one of the largest mansions I have ever seen built by an American pastime, made news when he claimed that raising the price of his pizza by pennies would be too great a change to provide those working for him with health care, something he would be required to do under the Affordable Health Care Act.  Yes, folks this act is going to cost you more in pizza.  But if you eat lots of pizza, your health care costs are going to go up anyway.

I am willing to pay more for all types of things so that my fellow citizens can have decent health care.  It is the lower wage employees, many times the ones exposed to the worst working conditions and the most unpredictable employment stability, that are going to suffer by employers reducing their hours.  I was trying to cheer up a cashier at BJ's when he pointed out it was not the long hours but the shorter hours he was suffering from.  He was only allowed to work 24 hours a week.  I thought it was an overtime issue, but he clarified that if he put in 30 hours they would have to provide him with healthcare support.

Denny's restaurants in Florida said they would raise their meals by 5%.  Really!  I am willing to pay that during the few times I eat at Denny's.

The Darden restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.) also claimed this healthcare law was just too costly and too burdensome on their business...until they found within weeks a drop in business by about 37%  when people found out and a drop in their standards of customer service when employees were spread out part-time.

Look, this national health care initiative is going to cost, but the cost will be spread out over us all and there are several provisions that tighten the waste and overspending done in hospitals and doctor's offices.

Just THINK for a minute.  Do you really want to be eat food that has been cooked, handled and served by staff who avoid seeing a doctor until the very last minute because they have no health care?  Let us be practical here and little more generous with our money.

I will watch the food industry and only eat in those places that care about the health of their employees.  You can take your own chances as you wish.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Dumber than Smart

A few years ago when I bought my HP PC they included not a single manual but a 3-foot wide foldout with graphics on how to put it together.  The limited written instructions were in a font size that could be read standing over the paper when laid out on the floor.  They they sent me online to learn how to use the PC.  That approach is most challenging if you are new to computers but it is efficient in the word arena if you need to know how to put it together.

With my Droid smartphone they gave me this many opportunities in the photo above to get it wrong and almost be reduced to tears on the day after Christmas.  The font size was 8!   How can an instrument that is primarily designed for communication get is so wrong?   Clearly they never learned the best from Cicero "When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind."  Well, I have definitely brimmed here.  There are videos online that you can watch in the tiny screen to learn more.  They move very fast.  You will have to watch them enough times to memorize them and then perhaps apply.  (Anyone under 50 who is reading this, get over your miraculous selves because you WILL be here someday with some great new technology.)

I eventually went to the store where the phone was purchased and asked the 15-year-old working there if he could transfer my phone book from my old phone.  He fiddled for a while and had the same success that I did.  He took my phone to the computer and fiddled there and had more success.  I forgot to ask him to transfer the dozen photos that I had on the little pink device, but they were not important.  I purchased three screen protectors for the touch screen and a car charger and got out of there for about $40.00!  That used to be the price of a monthly phone bill so long ago.

I have had this phone since December 25 and hubby set it up so that it was ready to run on that day.  I have received exactly one call since then, and it was from my husband in a test call.   I told my husband that I really did not want this phone, but he is stubborn and probably thought I was trying to save money.  Well he was right about that as I am not sure how much more on a monthly basis this gadget will cost us.  My most recent cellular bill was 60$ more than usual, and I hope that means it included the cost of this slick pink thing.  As I said before it will be most easy to drop---compared to the files in the photo below.

I did figure out how to take a photo of someone and then add that as an icon to the favorites box for phone calls,  something hubby did not know could be done.  But he has probably 300 contacts on his phone!

Yes, I am trying to be grateful, but I would have been just as happy with a box of French chocolate truffles.

I have little use for the "APPs" except the GPS and mapping device which is like my Garmin GPS!  So, now I have two ways to get lost and two computer voices to ask me to make a U-Turn at the next available opportunity.  The game APPS are not free and who on earth can see stuff that small in order to play if you are waiting in a doctor's office?  I no longer need to carry a pocket calculator...I guess that is one of the things that will be obsolete in the future.  I do not know the difference between an APP and a WIDGET though.

If you keep your phone on off most of the time in your purse and IF you have connected to FaceBook via your phone, be aware when you boot it up that it will go back an eternity to update you on your FB notifications!!!   See the very top line in the phone screen shot below.  It does not let you know who is making these comments as it scrolls and updates, so it is less than useful.

Yes, I am trying to be grateful, but I would have been just as happy with a box (or a dozen boxes) of French chocolate truffles.

Thursday, January 03, 2013


We are both tired of the abundance that surrounds us over the holidays.

Hubby is tired of the abundance of germs that were shared by the most beautiful grandchildren in the world.  He has been coughing for days.

I am tired of the abundance of chores that must be done when one half of the partnership is down for the count.

I am tired of the abundance of calories that waited for me everywhere and I have started once again (after the second twisted ankle in late fall and the completion of the dose of weird medicine) to go forth on the elliptical.  Thank goodness this is not a New Year's resolution.

I am tired of the abundance of specialty stores in American malls.  We have not one but two 'eyebrow' stores in our city mall.

This list is just the self-indulgent list at the mall.  It will come as no surprise to my readers that I have NEVER had my eyebrows done in my life time.  At this time in my life they are thin and only hormone application would work and with my luck I would also get hair growing out of my nose and ears.

There was a store just selling olive oils and few specialty about living in abundance in a world that has many going hungry each night.  (That guilt did not stop me from buying several expensive oils!)

There was an abundance of gifts in my life this year...two big ones that hubby bought me and which I did not ask for and am not sure I want.  One is a very fancy remote control movie camera (two actually) for watching animals, nannies, or neighbors when they do not know they are being photographed.  (This should just open up the world for more blog posts and perhaps resulting lawsuits.  Youtube here I come.)

The other was a smart phone.  It is thin making it very droppable.  It has a touch screen that zips and zaps and gets it right 50% of the time.  There are features upon features ... 90% of which I will never use.  After some effort I linked it to FaceBook and was a little frightened that it picked up a bunch of phone numbers from that link as well!  I bet half these people do not know that I have their phone number!   Please note that I get maybe three calls a month on my mobile phone...maybe.  Usually these calls are hubby trying to figure out where I am in the mall so that we can meet up for lunch.

The one abundance that I am always amazed about is the love of all the love-able people in my life.  I can never repay it, but that will be my New Year's resolution.

(One final abundance note is too many fruit flies...not from all the wine I have been drinking but all the fruit that went to ferment while we were gone.  I actually have one floating in the dregs of my coffee cup this morning.)