Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Joy of Rudeness

One benefit of reaching advanced age is that you can be quite rude when necessary. It's more than a privilege, more like a quaint tic that is expected of you. I used to bite my tongue when people would say something absurd, or wrong, or just tacky. No more, man. For those of you who haven't quite got the hang of it, read and take notes.

If someone says: You may say:

How do you like my hair (or botox job, Looks like a turd in a blender
or casserole)

I don't believe in evolution I don't believe in bricks

Abortion is a sin Don't have one

I don't believe in climate change No one gives a rat's ass what you believe
Obama is a Muslim traitor He says the same thing about you

The media has a liberal bias So does the dictionary

Taxes are just redistribution of wealth You still pay taxes?

The point is not to engage in an argument, but to stun them with your rudeness. If you worry that they won't be your friend anymore, are you so desperate that you want such a twit for a friend? You must be really short on friends. It may be because you're fat and ugly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Best Laid Plans

The blog has been on hiatus for a while now. I noticed the last entry was a few days before CJ died. That could have something to do with it. I did some journaling this last year, trying to organize and make sense of this new life as a widow.

I miss CJ terribly, of course, and after 56 years of marriage, things are different. I didn't know at first how different. Not better, not worse, but in a way I felt like I had retired again. The first retirement was 14 years ago. I hadn't done much planning for either one.

Sure, I had checked and rechecked IRA's, other investments, insurance policies, all that boring trivia that keeps us going. I just had not planned what we, or I, would do with myself. But, as the saying goes, "Man plans, God laughs."

After the office retirement, I scheduled time for art, music lessons, swimming, exercise classes, book club, fancy cooking, gardening, sewing, all those things that had been on the to-do list for 20 years. We downsized houses, remodeled the new house and yard, spent more time at the lake. Spent more time with friends and relatives, traveled a bit. But, the biggest chunks of time were spent going to doctors.

Scheduling the appointments, allowing waiting time for each one, working out conflicts, filing insurance claims and arguing over details became a full-time job for long periods of time. We each had different doctors for each body part, and those parts began to wear out and needed repairs or replacement. Both of us with our graduate degrees had real difficulty making sense of the bills.

My filing system has evolved into a model of simplicity. Instead of stacking, sorting, and labeling the reams of paper by type, by patient, I now have a current file labeled "2015." When it gets too fat, I start another. At the end of the year they go in a box. A few go in a file for the accountant. The box goes on the closet shelf, like purgatory, for 3 years.

I'm still figuring out what this second retirement is about. I must make plans. I must make a "2016" file soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hospital Bill

Been awhile since I posted to this blog. Doctor's notes for excused absences? I have a note from my mother? None of the above, I just don't like to post unfinished thoughts. Although, you have noticed, I do. It's my rule, so I can break it with my permission.

I also do not like to whine. My recent medical adventure ended well, was painless but a little scary. I had cataract surgery 12 or 15 years ago. Pretty routine now, they remove your old lens, slip in a new plastic one, 10 minutes and you're good to go. For 12 or 15 years. One morning I woke up to find that my left eye was seeing the world as though looking into the window of a front-loading washer. "Hey!" Said I of the steel-trap mind, "This is just wrong." Seems the little plastic lens had escaped into my eyeball. Went to hospital, my great brother-in-law holding my hand, while they retrieved it and put in a shiny new one. Good as new.

Now I have shortened this a bit, left out a couple of doctor visits, but this was not an emergency room trip. Into the hospital at 6:00 AM, out by 10:00 AM, no bed, no room, no meals. The hospital bill alone, not counting any doctors, billed to insurance, of course, was $52,000.00.

Of course Medicare and United Health will knock it down as excessive. Of course the hospital will show this as a loss. I know this, and I understand this, but I  don't have to approve of it. Maybe it will change with Obamacare. Maybe not. I'm just glad I'm insured.

CJ is still in the hospital, since March 31. I can't wait to see his bill.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hiring and Firing Doctors

In the last several years we’ve hired and fired quite a few doctors. C. J. and I have primary care doctors, and every body part has it's own specialist. Not just eyes and teeth, but we have ones like the toe guy, the cancer guy, and "Gastro Man." He laughs when I call him that.  Getting good ones doesn’t come easy; you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Here are some hints on finding your prince(s).

Is it clean? One of CJ’s specialists had peeling linoluem on the floor, stained walls and woodwork, and no sink in the exam room so you could see if the doctor washes up. Even if it’s clean, is it crowded? Does he expect you to spend a lot of time there with patients who are coughing and snorting and screaming kids? An hour is too much, and it shows the doctor doesn’t respect you or your time. The receptionist has your phone number, and could call if an emergency affects the schedule. Greed leads to overbooking, which leads to long waits for you.

If you call the office and get a busy signal, this doctor is living in the dark ages. He or she doesn’t trust voicemail, e-mail, or fax messages. Odds are they are using paper files instead of a computer, and get all information by pony express. Your appointment time is spent digging through paperwork instead of looking down your throat or up your wazoo, which should be more interesting. Odds are good that they are not sharing information with your other doctors or the pharmacy, as they should.

We have had doctors who will not shake our hand without rubber gloves. We had one who wouldn’t let patients use the rest room, sending them upstairs and down a hall, some trailing tubes or tanks. Most do not visit hospitals at all, or even make a phone call. One asked me how my surgery had gone, after I dragged my sorry body to the office for a follow-up visit. I told her I had no idea, because I slept through the whole thing. That question told me she hadn't even checked with the hospital or the surgeon.

This is easier than breaking up with a boyfriend or firing your yard man. No need to say good-bye, no need to ask for records, no reason to tell them why. Just hire a new doctor. We like new doctors, not just as in different, but newly graduated. This includes those with a dozen or more years or so under their white coat. They know the new tricks, are not burnt out, and don’t seem so arrogant. Maybe they run them through a charm school course. Or they may just appreciate your business.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Storming the Castle

Something triggered memories of our last European trip, probably pictures posted by friends. It was 1976, a milestone in several ways. It was the Bicentennial, it was the year before CJ's stroke, but is best remembered as the year we stormed the castle.

We took Doug and June, who were about 12 and 16 at the time, to see Europe by train. We carried only hand luggage so we could be spontaneous, sleeping by night and jumping off in the morning when we saw an interesting place. No reservations, just a vague plan to visit friends in the Netherlands, mosey up to Copenhagen, then down through Germany. The only Must Do was to spend the night in a castle on the Rhine, selected and booked ahead because it looked like a true castle, turrets and all.

The Netherlands trip included a bike ride in the Haag up to the North Sea beach to see the German bunkers, which were accessible by hiking through a nude beach. It also included a day trip to Gouda for the cheese festival, with music, dancing, and lots of cheese. We picked out a lovely ball of Gouda, sealed in wax, as a snackable souvenir.

Traveling by train in the summer sometimes included open cars, sometimes shared with livestock in the rear seats, and sometimes quite warm. After a night sleeping head to toe in our compartment, just the four of us and the cheese, we began to regret the cheese  We checked into a hotel in Copenhagen, all took showers, and ditched the cheese. However,  as we toured Tivoli Gardens, we still reeked of Gouda. We could part a crowd, which was a good thing.

At our next stop we found a laundromat, where we washed and dried the clothes in our satchels, put them on, and then washed and dried the clothes we had been wearing. No more Gouda cloud around us! {We told CJ we thought it was his socks anyway.}

We changed from train to bus to boat as we neared the Rhine, courtesy of Eurailpass. In less than an hour we spotted the turrets on top of a hill, and told the pilot to let us off at the castle. Sure enough, there was a dock with the right name on it, so we hopped off with our satchels and headed up the mountain.

After a hundred feet or so, the path gave out, and we stashed out satchels and began to climb.  Even as we are parting vines and helping one another over boulders and ravines, it never occurred to us to turn back. We finally reached a wall about ten feet tall. It had some slits, probably for pouring hot oil on the enemy, that gave  us a bit of a toe hold. Looking over the top, we saw a large courtyard with several tables of well-dressed people having tea and cookies. They looked at us with astonishment.

The waiters, however, brought over chairs to help our descent, led us to a table, and took our orders, oblivious to the fact that we were sweaty and trailing vines. Soon a manager arrived, confirmed our reservations, and asked about our luggage. He said he would send a car for it, and that is when we noticed a parking lot around the corner. Yes, there was a paved road that most people used, a few yards south of the dock. We used it the next day, after a lovely night at the castle.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Joyous Festivus

I was going to write a sweet Christmas spirit kind of entry today, but it just isn't happening. Some years I'm overwhelmed by comfort and joy. This is not one of them. If I go to Hell when I die (If?) there will be a choir of nitwits singing "Little Drummer Boy." Another group will follow with "The 27 Days of Christmas" or whatever number it is. For the solo, I want a lounge singer with a boozy version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Whatever."

Our newspaper gives a "Sour Orange" award for the worst scoundrels of the year. Sort of like hoping Santa reads the Times and will bring them a lump of coal. Instead, their misdeeds are richly rewarded. The runner-up was Duke Energy, who has collected billions in advance to build a nuclear power plant that they have decided not to build after all. They not only get to keep the billions they collected but never spent, we are also going to spend billions more to decommission their old, broken plant. They will just keep on burning oil, thank you anyway.

The winner was Congress, who is refusing to reconsider a bill passed in haste last year that blows the lid off flood insurance. They were assuming that the "subsidies" being given to owners of homes in flood zones were rewarding rich people with waterfront mansions. Actually, the average homes affected in our area are about 1500 square feet, are not on the water or even in view of the water, and met all building codes when built. Their flood rates are going up from $2,000 to $40,000 a year, but they don't know for sure until the bills come in. The required affordability study was never done, and they voted with erroneous data, but they shrugged it off.

The third pisser of the week was Texas Governor Rick Perry getting a bill passed making it legal to say "Merry Christmas." This has people surprised and angry that it was illegal (it wasn't) and makes Perry a hero. Brilliant! I wish everyone Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Festivus, and Good Ramadan, just to make a point.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Christmas Trip

Started playing around with "Tell us 10 things about yourself that we may not know," and anyone that comments is supposed to add their own. I remembered a train trip I took, quite by accident, when I was six.

The train trip was only an accident because I did it alone. Mama was going to take me to New York to see the Christmas lights and windows. We were living in Princeton, N. J. for a few months in 1943 while Daddy was in training with the Navy before going off to war. The train pulled in to the station, the doors opened, so I got on. I didn't notice that Mama wasn't with me until the doors closed and we were off and going. I figured she was in another car or maybe the bathroom, but it was no big deal. I wasn't worried, because we were both going to New York, and I'd just find her there.

It didn't seem like long before we pulled into a tunnel. It wasn't scary because there were lights. No one got off at the first few stops, so I didn't either. Then, it seemed like everyone got off, so I did too. There was a big sign that said "MACY'S'"with more toys and Christmas trees and music than you could ever imagine. This must be Heaven! You just walked across the platform and right in the door and it went on forever. There were big moving elves and snowmen and deer and Santas of all sizes. I picked up a baby doll and decided to keep that for my own. I danced to the music, climbed up to a big tree, and sang along.

It was wonderful until I heard loud screaming. Mama came running in with a couple of policemen and a little Santa guy I had seen by the door. A policeman picked me up and asked me if I was alright. He tried to take my doll so I kicked him. He held me way out in front of himself when he carried me over to Mama. She was really crying and I didn't know why. It wasn't a sad thing, because we were just where we had planned to be. I guess she was sad because she missed the train. She told me not to tell Daddy, but I did. And I got to keep the doll. Her name was Barbara.