“Weather is a great metaphor for life—sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” ~ Pepper Giardino

John Constable Rainstorm Over the Sea 1824 oil on canvas

“Rainstorm Over the Sea,” John Constable (1824-28, oil on canvas)

 

“a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand.  I think i too have known
autumn too long” ~ e.e. cummings

Satellite Image of Noreaster 11-11-09
Satellite Image of November 11 Nor'easter

Well, we’re in the middle of a massive nor’easter here. Heavy rain and strong winds gusting up to 50 mph. Our electricity and cable were knocked out at 7:20 this morning, but the electricity is back now.

Do you want to know how I know exactly when the electricity went out? Well, it’s because I was awake.  Well who isn’t awake at 7:20 in the morning, you might ask? Normally, not me because I go to sleep so late, but you see, once again, I have not been to sleep. It’s now going on 11:30 a.m., and I have yet to close my eyes for more than 30 minutes or so. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to stay awake as long as possible so that I might be able to go to sleep later—really go to sleep. Not this minute-by-minute crap.

So I’m writing my post now, hoping that my eyes will start to get heavy soon.

I enjoy listening to a good storm. The wind chimes are playing wildly as the wind whips around and through them. Luckily, the wind gusts aren’t enough to move things about the yard. That’s always scary.

“Only those in tune with nature seem to pick up on the energy in wind.  All sorts of things get swept off in the breeze—ghosts, pieces of soul, voices unsung, thoughts repressed, love uncherished, and a thousands galore of spiritual ether . . .” ~ Drew Sirtors

Willoughby Spit
Aerial View of Willoughby Spit

I remember when I used to live in Willoughby Spit a long time ago; we lived on Lea View, the last road in Willoughby, right next to the Chesapeake Bay. Willoughby Spit, as the name implies, is a neighborhood that was actually created during a hurricane. The area, which is a peninsula bordered by the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, and Willoughby Bay, is approximately 7.3 miles long. Major storms, including the huge Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, which lasted over three days, further eroded the spit.

Anyway, we (my ex and I and our dog) woke up one morning to a brutal nor’easter—so named because the winds come from the northeast, hitting the East Coast of the Atlantic U.S. and Canada. Nor’easters can cause as much and sometimes more damage than a hurricane, mostly because they can last through several tide cycles, dumping more and more water on land. Depending upon conditions, snow and/or ice can accompany a nor’easter.

What at first appeared to be another storm soon became cause for evacuation. Apparently, the storm caused a gas leak in one of the homes, and the entire neighborhood was evacuated in amphibious half-tracks. By the time we left, the water level on our cars was half-way up the doors. It was pretty incredible and more than a little frightening to watch the water continue to rise unabated.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but many people traded in their water-logged vehicles. We, however, did not, and the floor panels of my ex’s old Toyota rusted through. One day they were there, and then our feet went through. Unlike some of our neighbors who lived on the waterfront side of the street, we did not end up driving new Saabs and Audis after the storm, but that was okay because we all made it out.

After that storm, whenever a nor’easter was forecast, everyone parked their cars out on the main road.

“No one but Night, with tears on her dark face,
Watches beside me in this windy place.” ~
Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Perfect Storm
Image from Movie The Perfect Storm

So right now, the wind is still at work outside. In our current neighborhood, we do not border the water, but half-way around the block, the houses abut Little Bay. Our neighborhood has flooded, but nothing like what I saw in Willoughby.

Just a bit of trivia: The movie The Perfect Storm is based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat that was caught in a nor’easter in October 1991.

Earlier this morning, I spent a bit of time on the phone with my health insurance company (such a pleasant representative . . . not), and then with my pain management doctor’s office. Apparently, my health insurance was cancelled at the end of May, which is why my doctors have not been receiving payment.

Now, how can that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I do know that we have been paying my expensive premium each month and that someone was getting the money, but Blue Cross/Blue Shield claims that it wasn’t them. Have I mentioned lately how much I intensely dislike bureaucracies.

As a result, 13 claims have to be reprocessed, and most of those are with my pain management group. Unfortunately for me, I cannot make an appointment until some money changes hands between my provider and my insurer. This really sucks—being at the mercy of individuals who control the fate of my health and welfare. I mean, we make that payment every month by the grace period due date; as it is, I still cannot use my prescription coverage, but you would think that ADP might have wondered why I was still paying them for a policy that had supposedly been cancelled . . . you would think.

“Once more I am the silent one
who came out of the distance
wrapped in cold rain and bells:
I owe to earth’s pure death
the will to sprout.” ~ Pablo Neruda

tropical storm waves

Think being the operative word here. Anyway, more hurry up and wait, and in the meantime, my back is full of knots and spasming like a crazed Tasmanian Devil. And then there’s that little problem of not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep. I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have to get up and drive anywhere in the morning because I don’t know if that would be possible in my current state.

I do know that I woke up in fits and starts, one time singing (yes, singing . . .), and another time because I was certain that I had heard a rustling sound. I have no idea what I was singing or why, but I do remember scratching my chest a lot. Don’t ask me why I do any of this because I really don’t know. I mean, my personal hygiene is just fine. I think that the scratching that I do in my sleep is probably another reaction to one of my medications, but who knows which one.

One of these days, all of my medications will be straightened out. My insurance will be fixed, and I will have no problems with my doctor’s offices. I will no longer be hounded by social security, and I will be able to pay what I need to pay when I need to pay it . . . one of these days. But until then I suppose I will continue to sleep in multi-minute interludes as opposed to hours as other people are able to do, and I will continue to have wild dreams that cause me to awaken singing, scratching, and screaming.

By the way, Corey can sleep through most of this, and the dogs don’t even wake up any more.

Piano music by Yiruma: “Kiss the Rain”

 

 

More later. Peace.

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If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers.

 

Sea of Japan2

Sea of Japan

“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Swimming Carp Hiroshige Ando 19th C
"Swimming Carp," Hiroshige Ando (19th C.)

Woke up today with a full-blown migraine. The headache began creeping around my head yesterday. I was hoping that it was just a sinus headache because of the weather, but nooo.

I actually had to ask Corey to get my medicine for me when I woke up today because I could not move without blinding pain. I took my second and last sample of Relpax. Of course, the medicine did not work this time. It worked wonderfully the first time that I took it. This time—nothing. What crap.

I have a deep-seated suspicion that pharmaceutical companies design their drugs to work sometimes but not all of the time. Hence the need for more and more new drugs to cure what ails the consumer. Okay, so maybe that theory has a few holes, but so does my brain at this point. Just how many migraines can an individual suffer over a lifetime before the brain matter begins to atrophy irreparably?

Anyway, it took me two more hours to finish my post from yesterday, which I was determined to do in my effort to get back to daily blogging. The fact that it did not post until today is immaterial. I wrote it yesterday, but didn’t post it yesterday. A mere technicality. But there was a point . . . oh yes, spent too much time looking into the bright light of the computer screen for yesterday’s post that went up today, so today’s post that is also going up today is essentially going to be a whole lot of nothing. Some meandering. Don’t expect much.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Hubble Sea of Stars
Hubble Sea of Stars

Random Observations:

Food manufacturers who use MSG should be required to put a big label on the front of their product stating that such is the case rather than forcing consumers to read the list of ingredients. I have severe reactions to MSG, and I’m tired of finding out that it was contained in a seasoning packet only after the migraine has hit.

Don’t ever try to tell me that dogs are dumb animals that don’t have sneaky streaks. Tillie has taken to hiding her favorite ball in the couch. Yes, deliberately hiding it. Both Corey and I have watched her do it. Too funny.

 I don’t understand what passes for language on LOL pictures (e.g., “Can I has it plez?”). Is this an offshoot of texting? Are we now to believe that the keyboard that comes with a computer is too taxing to use properly? Twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Not a thousand. Why on earth do we want to make our pets look stupid by imposing bad spelling and bad grammar on them?

 Still reeling over the fact that 14 people, mostly females, were arrested at Brett’s school yesterday. Also incredibly thankful that no one had a weapon.

 Very dear friend of mine is going through hell because the courts have ordered mandatory visitation rights for her ex-son-in-law, who happens to be a violent drug addict and just had a shootout with the police. Shootout was caught on local news and broadcast, yet he deserves to have visitation because his grandmother is an upstanding citizen? What in the hell kind of logic is that? Infuriates me just to think about it.

 If you read my blog and also have my telephone number (very few applicable parties here), don’t bother to call me because the phone has been turned off, and frankly, I don’t care. As long as we have one working telephone in the family and can call 911, having my own phone is superfluous. Besides, I only get calls from bill collectors anyway.

 I was not allowed to see my pain management doctor the other day when I went for my appointment because my past due balance is so high. My past due balance is so high because my insurance company is not paying my claims as it should be because of the ongoing saga with insurance company. I have been making it a point to pay my co-pays every time I go to the office. Hence, I left the office in tears, and cannot even begin to discuss this issue without getting mad, upset, and generally beyond apoplectic.

 Why do I remember so much more about the details of WWII than WWI when I studied both? Selective memory? Generational? What? Just curious.

 Oh, by the way, the sitting President of the United States won the Nobel Peace Prize. Just in case you were trying to forget. Not going to let you. It’s a big deal and something to be proud of, not to mock.

 Check out the little diamonds that I’m using for bullet points. Small things for small minds.

 I just spilled hot tea on my keyboard, but I am on a roll, so liquid air has to be a sufficient clean-up for now.

 It’s getting cool enough to begin to wear sweaters. I’m starting with my cotton sweaters first. Most of my cotton sweaters are white (it was a phase). The one that I am currently wearing is sporting a very large hot tea stain that has taken the shape of a paw print. Kind of fitting since there is a muddy dog paw print directly to the left of the tea stain from when Tillie hugged me earlier.

 Somehow, while looking for something on the Internet, I came upon a portable dog bath to put by doors to wash your pets’ muddy paws before they enter the rest of the house. How quaint. I’ll be ordering one of those right away, especially if it continues to rain everyday (kidding). I can just envision it: Tillie comes bolting in the door from the rain. I try to wrestle her into the portable dog bath. One of us lands butt first in the bathing tub. Odds are good that it won’t be the labrador with the strength of a rottweiler.

 Corey has been having strange dreams involving three of everything. Have absolutely no idea what that means. I continue to have strange dreams in which I get in the wrong elevator and end up on the wrong floor of the office building in which I work. I wonder if I will continue to have work dreams for the rest of my life. Probably, especially since I still have algebra dreams: Arrive on campus only to realize that I have been enrolled in an Algebra class that I have forgotten to go to all semester, and now it’s time for the final exam.  

 As with all people, I tend to make the same typos repeatedly, even more so when I type without wearing my glasses. I almost always type not for now, expecially for especially. But tonight was a new one: carp for crap, hence the big old picture of a carp.  

“A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Continued thanks to those of you who read and send your support. You stay with me on my roller coaster life. You read when I’m sad. You read when I’m snotty. You read when I’m completely offbeat, irreverent, and insane, and you read when I am beyond words. It’s kind of like having friends . . .

Closing with Sarah McLachlan’s “Answer,” which is more than appropriate.

 

More later. Peace.

                                                                                        

Answer by Sarah McLachlan

I will be the answer
At the end of the line
I will be there for you
While you take the time
In the burning of uncertainty
I will be your solid ground
I will hold the balance
If you can’t look down

If it takes my whole life
I won’t break, I won’t bend
It will all be worth it
Worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
When the stars have all gone out
You’ll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently
Into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a
Place so holy
That I can wash this from my mind
The memory of choosing not to fight

If it takes my whole life
I won’t break, I won’t bend
It will all be worth it
Worth it in the end
‘Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
When the stars have all burned out
You’ll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently
Into morning
For the night has been unkind

Help Support Underpaid Insurance Executives

Please Help to Protect Our Nation’s Health Insurance Executives From Unfair Changes in Their Lifestyles

 Grabbed this off WillPen’s World. Feel free to grab and share.

Vodpod videos no longer available.  

more about “Help Protect Insurance Executives Fro…“, posted with vodpod

 

Enough said. More later. Peace.

If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers . . .

 

Key West lightning by Janson Jones

Key West Lightning by Janson Jones

 

Daniel: Don’t you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.

Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance? 
Daniel:  Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

justdrops by Reys from The Gold Puppy
"Just Drops" from The Gold Puppy

Massive thunderstorms in the area last night. I had to turn off my computer as I did not want to chance another freak power surge like the one that took out half of the house’s electronics a couple of years ago. So unfortunately, I did not get to post.

It was an incredible storm: brilliant flashes of lightning and resounding thunder. I’m glad that none of our current dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. Murphy, our last lab was terrified of storms and fireworks, and it just broke my heart to watch her. Her eyes would get big, and she would try to crawl under any piece of furniture that she could find, which is kind of hard for a lab.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that with Tillie, Alfie or Shakes. I believe they could sleep through just about anything, unless of course air happens to be circulating outside the door, in which case, they must move en masse to the living room and bark hysterically until someone yells at them to shut up. Then they all retreat back to the bedroom and become sleeping lumps again.

Miyagi: [shrugging] … Because sometimes, what heart know, head forget

Well Eamonn penned his first batch of thank you notes today. I was very proud of him; even though I gave him the three basic sentences that any thank you note should have—acknowledgement of being remembered, thanks for specific present, and closing thanks—he took it a step further and personalized all of his notes. How nice.

And he hasn’t given me any grief about imposing the thank you note restriction before he can actually have gift in hand. I thought for sure that he would quibble with me, but he has surprised me, so I need to take back any mean things that I may have been thinking about him, not that I would ever think any mean things about eldest son—after all, I’m his mother, and in my eyes, he can do no wrong . . .

Far North Bicentennial Prk Anchorage by JJ
Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones
Perhaps he is on a new path. We’ll have to wait and see. Let’s move along. Shall we?
 

Daniel: Hey, where did these old cars come from?
Miyagi: Detroit.

The gardenias are in full bloom, and I’m keeping the house full of freshly-cut blooms. The front butterfly garden is starting to come into bloom as well. I’ll try to take some pictures and post them once we begin to attract butterflies.

GardeniasThat’s the highpoint of the summer season for me: watching all of the butterflies and moths dance through the blooms and leaves. I know, small things, but hey, I believe in appreciating beauty wherever I can find it.

About beauty, I’m featuring a few more picture from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog in this post. He has been doling out the photographic gems from his Florida trip in between other posts, and I’m loving all of them.

Miyagi: Daniel-san, never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose.

Speaking of Janson’s blog, I had to pause when I read his most recent posts on what is going on in Anchorage. Apparently there is a big brouhaha in the Alaskan city over a proposed gay rights ordinance. According to Janson’s post, the protests are over “Anchorage Ordinance Number 64, which is intended to provide extended and protective rights to gays and other minority groups in Anchorage.”

Ordinance 64 anti protest sign2Now let me pause here. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know how I feel about this issue. I am completely stupefied that society is still fighting over whether or not the GLBT segment of society deserves to be treated just like everyone else. But after seeing some of the signs being hoisted by the opposition, I must confess that I am beyond stupefied, beyond mortified. I am flapping my gums speechless (well, almost).

As you can see from the smaller sign in the picture on the right, the holder is purporting that “gays recruit children.” I thought that Ellen Degeneres clarified this particular nonsensical position years ago when she made it clear that for every person recruited, said gay person receives a toaster oven. It’s a joke, people. I mean really: “recruits children.” That is just feeble, uninformed, and sadly ignorant.

Or let’s take this sign: 98.5% of America is straight. That one really blew me away. I’m sure that it would shock many of these sign holders to find out just how many people in their lives are gay.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Nearly 550 people have signed up to testify on the ordinance, which would add ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of classes protected from discrimination. Classes already protected include race, ethnicity, age, sex, marital status, and others.”  For me, this just seems like a logical addition, an affirmation of civil rights, if you will.

The article continues: “In general, they argue that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be protected because of their immoral lifestyles, or that protection isn’t needed because discrimination doesn’t occur, or that passing the ordinance opens the door to same-sex marriage in Alaska and they don’t want that.”

I had my Irish up (which is pretty hard when you’re Filipino, and I hope that that idiom is not considered derogatory as I’ve used it for years) over the whole situation, but Janson, ever the logical, reminded me that “the fact that there were only three cops (that I saw) standing watch and smiles on most folks’ faces (most, but not all) is a reminder of what we do and can have in this country (violent nut-jobs excepted)—non-violent, peaceful activism, regardless of the merits or rationality of any given side’s actual argument. A few decades ago, rocks would’ve been thrown at the pro gay rights crowd and they wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate side-by-side.”

Janson’s observations were that instead of the opposing sides being physically separate, the pros and the cons were on the same side, mingling, and there didn’t seem to be any hate-speak going on.

Obama signing GBLT memoPersonally, I find that pretty amazing. I know that I fly off the handle pretty quickly when I learn of or see such things, and it’s nice to have a calmer voice reminding me of just how far those of us who believe in equal rights for all people have actually come.

That being said, we still have so far to go. Even President Obama’s recent Presidential Memorandum allowing for some extended benefits, such as visitation or dependent-care rights, to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees seems like a grain of sand in an hourglass that is bypassing the candidate of change.

DADT (don’t ask/don’t tell) was supposed to be repealed. Remember that promise? We’re still waiting . . .

Perhaps Obama plans to mete out change in tiny increments so that he isn’t shoving it down the throats of the Neo-Cons. But geez. DADT seems like such a no-brainer, at least to me.

Daniel: You think you could break a log like that??
Miyagi: Don’t know. Never been attacked by a tree.

Praying Mantis from Natl Geo
Praying Mantis from National Geographic (has nothing to do with this section; I just love the picture)

On to other things . . .

I learned today that the insurance company through which I receive my long-term disability benefits is denying my request for an upgrade of 6 percent as I paid for that option when I was actively employed by The George Washington University. Quelle surprise. The upgrade is supposed to be allowable for any non pre-existing conditions.

Well, my fybromyalgia was not diagnosed until November 26, 2007—after I had already been put on LT disability. However, just as I expected, the company found four pages of reasons as to why I do not qualify for this additional benefit for which I paid. Apparently, the doctor who diagnosed me did not list all of the criteria needed for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the “American College of Rheumatology criteria.”

What is it with insurance companies that they will gladly take your money in premiums, but they will nickle and dime you to death over benefits owed you?

I really hope that Obama’s supposedsocialist health care reforms will somehow trickle down to me because my monthly premium for health care is unbelievably high, and it only covers me, not the rest of my family. Thankfully, the boys are covered by their father’s policy until they are 19 unless they are in college. Corey was covered by his former union, and that’s one of the things that we’re keeping our fingers crossed over until he gets his new job.

Daniel: Wouldn’t a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

I wonder if there is anything else that I can bitch about in this post? Not in the mood to tackle Rush today. That’s usually a post by itself. The situation with the mortgage? Too depressing. The Virginia Gubernatorial race? Not ready for that one yet. The current state of Izzie the Trooper’s health? She’s in the shop now getting an estimate on how many arms and legs they want to make her run again.

I did see something completely sweet today, though. Brett’s two gerbils—Ben and Jerry—were snuggled up in the corner of their home, spooning. It was an aww moment.

Mr Miyagi with Chopsticks
The late Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi

Let me leave you with this tidbit of information: PETA (yes I believe in treating animals well, but these people are way over the top), objects to the way in which President Obama killed the fly that was dive-bombing him during a television interview. If you recall, Obama slapped the fly in a Mr. Miyagi move and nailed it. PETA has sent the President a fly trap that will catch the fly, and then said pest can be released outside.

Okay. I don’t believe in killing crickets or praying mantisssses or ladybugs or similar beautiful insects because it’s bad joss. But flies create maggots. Maggots make me gag. Big time. Flies also transmit diseases. The Black Plague of Europe anyone? Remember rats? Flies? Lots of dead people. Unfunny.

PETA needs to get a grip. The President wasn’t shooting wolves from a helicopter or field dressing a moose in the Rose Garden. Those things are appalling, and we all know of someone who boasted about doing them. Killing a dirty fly that feeds on feces? I’m sorry, but I have to give the Prez a big Miyagi “hai” for that one.

I need to go read and put ice on my head. More later. Peace.

Daniel:You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.
Miyagi: You… pretty okay, too.

Oh yeah. The whole Karate Kid thing? I know. I’m a dork.

                                                                                                          

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Your Call Will Be Answered In The Order In Which It Was Received

Bureacracy and Me: Not a Good Fit

Being On Hold Does Not a Nice Lola Make

Did you know that Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in the U.S.? Did you know that exercising in cold weather has its hazards, like icy patches in the road if you are running? Do you know why I know these little tidbits? Because I stayed on hold an inordinate amount of time today trying to get through to the prescription center with whom my insurance is affiliated. It was wonderful. Every few minutes, a nice woman would come on and tell me that I needed to “please continue to hold as [they] were experience heavy call volume and someone would be with [me] soon.”

operatorI thought that that was terribly nice of her, to speak to each and every person on hold, who, if they were anything like me, were approaching the 20 minute wait time. But I really needed to speak to these people. I needed a new card, and I needed to find out how much longer it was going to take for the processing of the prescriptions that my doctor had called in on December 22. Boy was I in for a surprise, and it wasn’t a good one.

Live human being comes on the line, very nice human, only to tell me that there are no prescriptions in process for me. The last thing she has for me was in September. I patiently explain to her that I was standing next to my doctor when he was telling his assistant who was on the phone with my prescription provider at the time as to what to call in, and that was on December 22, the day of my appointment. Sorry, nice human being, apologizes, but we have nothing for you, and as a matter of fact, you account closed on December 31, so we cannot send you a new card or process any more prescriptions . . .

Long pause on my end . . . I’m sorry . . . what did you say?

Your account closed on December 31.

No, that’s not possible.

Still nice human: I understand, but perhaps you need to check with your provider. You can have them call back, and we can expedite your order.

Fine, through clenched teeth, trying to remember that nice human is only doing her job and has in no way caused this situation. I’ll have someone call you back. I hang up the phone and call my health insurance provider. On hold for about 20 seconds. Live human being, also nice asks for my ID number.

I reply, well that’s going to be hard since my wallet was stolen and my card was in it, and I need a new ID.

neon-fuschia-on-hanging-on-the-telephone
Hanging on the Telephone with Neon Fuschia

Oh, how terrible, says Live human, and asks for my birth date, address, all of the info to confirm I am who I say I am and not some nut job wanting an ID from a health insurance company who happens to know all of my bona fides. Oh, happy birthday early, she chimes.

For a moment I don’t know what she is talking about, and then I remember. Oh crap, another birthday, mine, this month. Shit. Great. Moving along.

She tells me I’ll get the card in about 8 to 10 days. I stump her with my next question: So I do have active coverage then?

Um, yes you do.

So I tell her my plight and ask if she’ll call my prescription provider and verify that I have coverage because I’m out of my migraine medicine, and things are getting critical. She tells me that she would if she could, but she can’t as she can only verify that I have health insurance, and I need to have someone else verify prescription insurance. At this point, I am totally lost because I thought that my prescription coverage was part of my health insurance. Obviously, I am mistaken.

So This Much is True

However, since it was a little past 5 and no one at GW main campus stays a second after 5, so my big plans for taking care of all of this unfinished business are screwed. I hate dealing with this stuff, that’s why I’ve put it off for so many days. I did manage to get Brett’s appointment straightened out, call his doctor’s office to get the letter faxed to his school about his absences, reschedule the orthodontist appointments, and find out that I don’t need an appointment for my stretchy/bendy test at the radiologist’s at the hospital. I know that it’s not called a stretchy/bendy test, that there’s some other name for it, but I figure that’s better than calling it a Gumby test. The point is that I have to stretch and bend and they take x-rays.

So tomorrow, I get to deal with GW Human Resources. I can hardly wait. I can’t hardly wait. Which is it? Which one is worse? If you can hardly wait, does that mean that you can wait forever? If you can’t hardly wait does it mean that you cannot wait at all? I’m confusing myself. The point is that a telephone call to GW Human Resources is akin to “Once more into the breach,” and I’m sorry dear Henry, but I just don’t have the stamina to go into the breach with you and on to St. Crispin’s Day.

But Wait, There is Good News After All

concretecherub013But there is some good news: It turns out that my picture of Caitlin, the one that I’ve carried around for 20 years, was not in the wallet that was lost/stolen. It was in my smaller card wallet. I don’t remember putting it there, so I never bothered to look. Imagine what a wonderful surprise it was for me to find it there when I was looking through my card case to see if I had perhaps lost my Social Security card as well (I had not). 

Finding that picture means more to me than I can possible put into words. It’s just a simple snapshot of me holding Caitlin; she is wearing a pink dress, and everything looks absolutely normal. That’s what is so wonderful about it. It’s before we knew that she was sick, before the operations, before the PICU, before all of the tubes, the intubation, the vials and vials of blood, the respiratory therapists, the neurosurgeons, the oncologists, the nights spent on vinyl furniture. Before life turned to hell. Life was still normal, and Caitlin was just my baby girl.

But that snapshot is one-of-a-kind. I don’t have the negative. I don’t have a copy. So whoever took my wallet, a belated Merry Christmas to you. I hope you really needed the money. We needed it, but maybe you needed it more. I got back the one thing that I truly missed, the thing that I thought was gone forever. Everything else can be replaced, even if it means staying on the phone forever listening to recordings and fighting with bureaucracies. You cannot take away the one thing that would mean nothing to anyone else.

And with that, I’ll close for now. More later. Peace.

For Me, This is Hearth and Home

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Central Park in November (L. Liwag)

Thanks Be To Thee

I never did learn how to make those wonderful homemade biscuits that my Aunt Ronnie used to make for Sunday dinner. In fact, my only attempt at homemade biscuits turned out to resemble something more like unleavened bread that the tribes took into the desert as they wandered for 40 years. That’s pretty much how most of my baking efforts have turned out. I’m just not much of a baker. I can cook up main dishes no problem, no recipes, just a pinch here and there, which is why it frustrates my daughter when she asks for recipes from me because I cook by smell and texture, but baking? That’s just not my forté.

The only time that I ever baked anything successfully was in the 9th grade when I had to make something for French class, and my father helped me to make boucheé, little cream puffs. My father used to be an amazing pastry chef in his heyday, which is why getting him to make anything in later years took an incredible amount of coaxing, but this was worth a grade, so he helped me, and I turned out these incredible, flaky pastries filled with a delicate cream. Of course, I was only able to do so under his guidance. Ask me to replicate such a feat today, and you would get tiny little bricks filled with something curdled. Hence, I do not bake.

Today begins the cooking for a huge dinner for Thanksgiving: turkey and all of the trimmings, which we shall cart over to my mother’s house to eat at her dining room table because my new dining room table is still in a box in my shed because my living room and dining room still haven’t undergone the planned makeover from last year. Don’t even get me started on that particular subject. To say that I am completely uninterested in this meal and its preparation is an understatement. I am leaving said preparations to my wonderful husband, and my daughter, who is trying her hand at making a turkey for the first time ever. She is learning how to make dinner one dish at a time each year. Last year, it was the homemade mashed potatoes. I give her credit for her willingness to learn.

If it were up to me, you can guess what I would be doing: hiding deftly under the covers in my bed, surrounded by the dogs, who would have no idea that today is any different from any other day, so they are perfectly content to sleep in all day with me, given half the chance. But that is not allowed, so I must put on something festive and sit at the table and try to make it through a family dinner with my mother without losing my patience or my sanity.

In anticipation of this wonderful event, I have decided to try to prepare myself mentally by doing my personal Charlie Brown list of things that I am truly thankful for in my life, having already done a list of things that I am thankful for as an American. I will put aside my cynicism, dig deeply, and promise to be honest. So once again, here is a list of things for which I am personally truly thankful:

  • My family still has a roof over its collective head. We may be three months behind in our mortgage, but we are still holding onto the house. For that, I am truly grateful. We are not living in a shelter, or our car, or in a tent city. I am not being disingenuous here. I know that today, many people will be lined up to be served the kind of meal to which we will be sitting down at a nice table to have the privilege to eat.
  • I am grateful to have my family, as dysfunctional as we all are, I love them all. I know that I talk about them as if they are crazy, but I wouldn’t trade any of them. My heart is torn all of the time in fear and worry over what will become of us, but I know that the reality is that our problems are relatively small in comparison to what many other people are facing. We have a place to live, food in our pantry, clothes to wear, cars to drive, computers to use. We have so much more than so many others. We forget that even though times are hard, they could be tremendously harder.
  • I am thankful for my health. In spite of the constant pain, it could be worse. I don’t have cancer. I don’t have some rare blood disease. I do have health insurance. Yes, it is costing a lot to maintain, but at least I have access to it.
  • I am grateful that I have ears to hear the music that I love so much, eyes to see the pictures that I love to take and share, fingers to write the words that flow from my heart and my brain.
  • I am truly thankful that somehow, I have a gift for words that allows me to sit down at this keyboard, and the words just flow, unimpeded most of the time. It may not be a gift of greatness, but I feel that it is a gift nevertheless.
  • I am happy for the few true friends that I have. I don’t think that you really get many real friends in life.  You get lots and lots of people who come in and out of your life for different reasons, but true friends, only a few. And I love and respect the ones that I have.
  • I am so glad that I reconnected with my family in Germany. I have missed them, and I am really glad that they are back in my life. Not to mention being very glad that I am still very close to the rest of my ex-family-in-law. They have been my family-in-law forever. My sister-in-law has been more like the sister I never had. I have known her since middle school, and we are still very close. I am very thankful to have that relationship and thankful that she lives to close to me. My ex-mother-in-law is still my other mother, and she too, live only two miles from me. So I am very fortunate to have extended in-laws—Corey’s family and my ex-in-laws. Sometimes, the in-law clichés are just that. I divorced my first husband, but not his family.
  • I am thankful for books. That might seem like an odd thing to some people, but I could not live without books. I must have new books to read and old books to reread. Books have kept me company since I was a very young child. At times, they have been my only solace. I don’t know how I would exist if I did not have books constantly in my life.
  • I am grateful to have this outlet in which I can express myself and ponder different things everyday. It has come to be such a big part of my life now that I do not work full time. It has made me much more disciplined about writing. If I do not write every day, I feel as if something is missing. If there is no entry posted for a day, it is probably because I have been unable to get out of bed on that day because I am feeling too spent, and then I spend the entire day feeling guilty for not writing. On those days, I really miss my laptop.
  • I am thankful to have worked on the Obama campaign. Many of you may be tired of hearing about this, but it was one of the best experiences in my life to know that I contributed in even a small way to helping a great man get elected to the highest office in this land. I only wish that I could have been more involved and done more from the beginning. And I regret that I won’t be there for the inauguration, but I think that the size of the crowd really would overwhelm me.
  • I am so glad that I completed my second master’s in Publishing. I have a real sense of accomplishment for doing that because there were times when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go to one more class because of the long drive and the pain. But having Corey here to help me really made a difference. I just wish that I could work on a doctorate now . . . 
  • tillie-closeup
    Tillie Listens Closely
  • I am wonderfully grateful to have three great dogs. I love dogs. Most of the time, I think that dogs are better than a lot of people that I know, in large part, because dogs take the time to look at you when you are talking. Seriously. Talk to a dog, and then talk to a person. Notice which one pays more attention to you. Dogs read people’s faces, and they react to them. Cats could give a damn if you are having a bad day. My dogs have been having a really hard time lately with my crying spells. They are unaccustomed to my crying, so when I cry, they all start to talk at the same time. The smallest Jack Russell, Alfie, whines. Shakes, the horizontally tall one, tries to get me to lie down on the bed, and Tillie, the lab, starts to weave in and out of my legs. It’s hard to cry when your dogs are overreacting, which I think is the point. I love my dogs. And if Sarah McLachlan doesn’t stop with her animal shelter commercial accompanied by her song “Angel,” I may end up with six more dogs because it’s really getting to me (which is the point, I know). She’s sinister, that Sarah Mac.
  • I’m thankful to have a spouse who still loves me in spite of my best efforts to become a hermit. He brings me hot tea and massages the knots out of my back and never seems to get too exasperated with me even when I would have been exasperated long ago.
  • And finally, I’m grateful that even though this has been one of the worst years of my life, I still have my true love, my family, my dogs, my home, and my sanity (somewhat).

And on that note, I think that for now, I will close. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. There will be more later. Peace.

My $150,000 Shopping Spree

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I don’t think that I’m the only one. Even though I’m not a Republican, I imagine that I’m not the only person who is more than a little torqued out of shape by the RNC’s decision to spend $150,000 on Sarah P. and family’s wardrobe update, not to mention $24k a month on a personal makeup artist.

Now, Corey and I have made a few contributions to Obama’s campaign, not substantial by any means, but they were what we could afford to contribute, and as the Obama campaign has proven, every little bit counts. But if I had contributed money to the campaign, and then that campaign used campaign money to buy Joe Biden $150,000 worth of ties, I think that I just might think twice about donating funds in the future. Now granted, the governator probably needed a style update for the trail (we all know that the Todders did), but to the tune of $150,000? Couldn’t they have found one of their rich benefactors to underwrite such an expenditure so that it did not come out of campaign funds? That certainly would have gone down easier with the Joe the Plumber electorate making $40k a year. I know that I would have been less pissed off, and I’m not even a Republican.

But, let’s just suppose that someone decided out of the goodness of his or her heart to give my family $150,000 to spend as we needed. Here is how we would spend it (and even though we all know that I love clothes and black boots and squishy leather bags, that’s not where it would go):

This is my $150,000 fantasy shopping spree:

  • I’d pay off all of the back balances on my utilities, especially the huge one that we owe on the gas bill so that we could have heat this winter.
  • Then there would be the past due amount on my health insurance. I figure that’s probably a good thing to take care of given my situation.
  • Speaking of health insurance, Corey hasn’t had any since he’s been out of work. I’m counting on the Obama health plan, but who knows how long that will take to implement . . .
  • It would probably be prudent to get caught up on the payments on our life insurance, you know, make sure the kids are taken care of, just in case.
  • I don’t even want to think about the mortgage payments and the late charges that we’ve accrued. That one gives me the cold sweats at night, but it would be great to get ahead by one or two payments
  • There’s the second mortgage we took out to try to stave off bill collectors, but that was ill-conceived, and now it’s just one more bill.
  • We started remodeling the house over a year ago, but haven’t had the funds to do anything with it in ages. It would be nice to finish that. But that comes at the bottom of the priorities for now. Although, I have to say, having a house that isn’t in a constant state of disarray would do wonders for my peace of mind. But hey, who needs peace of mind?
  • The dogs need to go to the vet; I wonder if the Louis Vuitton bag that one of the governator’s daughters got would cover that bill?
  • Both the Trooper and the truck need new brakes, and the Trooper needs a new passenger side window. I’m thinking that the red leather jacket that the governor was wearing would probably cover the cost of those repairs
  • And then there are the little things like the boys’ orthodontist bill, my doctors bills, the MRI that I need on my back, the glasses that my oldest son needs, the money that we still owe to the hospital for my back surgery.
  • The boys could use some new Levis and some new shoes, nothing fancy, maybe some Sketchers.
  • I could use a good night’s sleep and for my shoulders and back not to be tied up in knots.
  • Corey could use a job.

That’s my fantasy shopping spree. I don’t think that it even comes close to $150,000. I’d return the unused portion so that someone else could go wild and pay some bills. I’ll bet we could take care of at least three or four joe six-pack families out there, you know, real Americans who are going under just like us.

Real Americans who have worked, paid their taxes, served their country, and now find themselves in the unenviable position of being a one-income family with two-income bills, and that income is a disability income at that. I have to tell you, Governor Palin, being real Americans isn’t really making that much of a difference for us. We might have our honor, our pride, our patriotism, but we can’t eat that for dinner. It won’t keep us warm this winter, and it’s not going to get me the MRI that I need on my back. Sorry to be so cynical. Just cannot help myself.

So wink, wink right back atcha. You look mahvelous. As well you should, but have you thought about T. J. Maxx?

More later. Peace.