Monday, November 17, 2014


Heidy-Ho, Blogging Buddies.  You know this one is going to be quite the rant.  Delete this or exit the browser if you aren't ready to listen to it!!  :)

Alright.  The spousal-unit & I have been carrying our own personal health insurance for the past six years.  We have had a "catastrophic" policy in place as we rarely go to the doctor.  This type of policy was designed to help pay for MAJOR costs in the event of an accident or a long-term illness.  The premiums weren't great... but they were doable.  Yes, they increased each year by a small amount but they were still doable.

Let me clarify.  This policy has paid NOTHING, Zero, Zilch, Nada, Nein... pick a term you like.  We have had doctor appointments, some tests, dental, & vision care over the past 6 years.  WE have paid for all services and medications IN FULL!!!  

Enter the (incorrectly named) "Affordable Care Act", or ACA, frequently referred to as Obamacare.

September 13, 2013.  Letter from insurer (BC/BS) advising that the ACA will take effect for my policy in July of 2014 unless I choose to change my renewal date to December of 2013 (which will push the inevitable back by five months since I won't renew again until December of 2014).  I sign to change the anniversary month to December and note a premium increase of $10.03 will begin in December of 2013.  I'm fine with that.

August 18, 2014.  Letter from insurer (BC/BS) that sent my typically-low blood pressure skyrocketing.  Three pages of garbage that essentially said:
1)  You are paying $254.68/month now.
2)  Your new ACA-compliant policy will cost you (wait for it...) $1,018.16/month.  Yep.  I did the math.  That's a 400% increase, ladies and gentlemen.  Oh... but it will cover a LOT of things your old policy doesn't... like pediatric vision and dental.  (This might be a little comforting IF I HAD CHILDREN!)
3)  By the way, without explaining the "how" of it, BC/BS offered me a little reprieve for a year.  Calling my existing plan now my "transitional" plan (HUH?), I am advised I can continue it for $287.99/month (that 13% increase looks a lot better than 400%) until January 1, 2016 when I "will then be moved to an ACA-compliant plan..."  Just need to sign this form & fax it back.  Uh.  Okay.  Done.

Mid-October, 2014.  Letter from insurer outlining a Summary of Benefits and Coverage.  This looks suspiciously like the mega-dollar policy prompting a call to "Customer Service" where Tanisha explained she had no idea why I had received that letter but she showed me still on my "old" (now "transitional") policy at the December 2014 renewal.  Sigh.  Okay.  Note to self: Be SURE to check the premium that is drafted for December.

Folks... there is a problem with the health care system, as it relates to both insurers and providers.  I get that.  I won't argue it.  I have had multiple conversations with "customer care centers" over many years about claims, payments, etc.  And this all took place while we were covered through one or the other of our workplaces' health insurance benefit!  Good coverage.  Low cost to us.  Still not perfect.

There are a lot of approaches to "reforming" any type of environment.  Some are a little too dramatic... like the ACA which was written by academics (never good when it's needed in a real-world environment!), passed by folks who never even read the first page (much less the THOUSANDS after it), and "fleshed out" by a bunch of bureaucrats, NONE of whom have to abide by the rules they put in place.  Oh... that actually applies to the folks who passed it, too.  Ask your Congressman/woman if they are bound by the terms, conditions, and rules of the ACA.  Nope.  Not at all.  This is why most of them do NOT care about it.  In fact, it has become just a slight annoyance to many of them.  Other "reforms" can be worthless in the sense they don't really do anything at all.  I am nearly certain, however, that people with good intentions who will sit and work together and think through all (including unintended) consequences of the terms they put in place will eventually find a middle ground that will benefit most without harming more than are helped.

I have spent the past several years volunteering some time at the local community clinic.  The patients are working uninsured.  The clinic is only open one afternoon a week and it is a first come-first served basis.  It creates a need for a patient to arrive early and stay late.  But let me tell you what they receive for their time.  FREE assessment by nurses who volunteer their time.  FREE visits with local doctors who volunteer their time.  FREE medications filled by a local pharmacy owner who volunteers his own time and PAYS his employees to come do the work!  My primary focus is to process the paperwork needed to obtain prescription medications through the Patient Assistance Programs that most of the pharmaceutical companies provide.  I can tell you that many of the patients we serve have had ongoing medical issues for a very long time but have been unable to afford medical or prescription help.  This little clinic has helped a lot of folks get on the path to wellness... or at least to feel better.

I have heard all of the reasons the current administration thinks Obamacare is needed and is successful.  It is wrong.  Is reform needed?  Yes.  Is Obamacare the answer.  A resounding NO!

The mid-terms are over.  The American voters have indicated by their ballots they want some changes.  I would like to be hopeful... but all I can do right now is wait to see if the existing politicians "get it" and if the new politicians can actually push to correct the course of our government.  I fear more posturing and finger-pointing with nothing accomplished.  That will mean we are in no better shape than we were before.  Sigh.

So... if you have not yet been impacted by Obamacare and you believe it is a "good" reform measure, I suggest you wait a while longer.  If you are a working American with a good job and benefits, I'm afraid you are going to find things aren't so rosy down the road if Obamacare is not revised, at the very least, or trashed with a logical, well-thought-out new reform ready to take its place.

Time will tell.  I just hope I can remain insured at some level until things make sense again.  If not, I hope I can at least stay healthy!

Until next post...

Monday, October 6, 2014


 Heidy-Ho, Blogging Pals!

It's finally October although you wouldn't know it by the weather yet.  :(   Maybe it will cool off a bit by the end of the month.

I made a short (sort of) road trip with my very excellent friend, Charlotte B.  She has been to Marksville, LA on multiple occasions and had a need to go again.  I offered to drive if she would navigate.  I won't go into extensive detail here BUT let's just say that I made multiple turns per instruction that took us to places that were NOT on the list of those to which we planned to go!!  LOL!!  At the point I finally suggested I would just "find the way back" from a final and substantial navigational error, her comment to me was along the lines of "Well, I have always been directionally challenged!"  REALLY?!?  I nearly had to pull over to get over my laughing spell!  I honestly should have figured it out early in the trip when she mentioned, "I don't really pay that much attention when I don't drive."  Yep.  She doesn't!  :)  But... it was still great fun and an adventure to a place I had never been.  A few photos for you.

Inside the Paragon Resort lobby

A few "residents" of the lobby's "swamp"

Thought they were happy to see us... until we noticed the ice chest.  I think it's full of chicken!!

 So... it was fun and we enjoyed our "short" road trip.  Always good to have some time to catch up.

During September, there were some very lovely morning skies as I walked.  I wanted to share a few of them with you.  Know that you can enjoy them, too!!  Get out there!!  :)

The Moon setting, caught in a hole in the trees

The Sun is on its way

Takes a while to get through all those trees

Should be any minute now

There it is!!  Good morning!

Great clouds can be seen once the Sun is up
Thanks for stopping by.  I appreciate readers!  I know this isn't really a "teaching" or "informative" blog... but it wasn't designed to be either of those.  Just rambling.

Until next post...

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Heidy-Ho, Blogging Buddies!!

Well, against all odds and with a LOT of assistance from the spousal-unit (I am neither a sanding nor a hardware kinda' gal!), the nightstand project has been completed.  Did it turn out exactly as it looked in my mind?  Not quite.  But I learned a couple of things, figured out what I would need to do to get closer to the final look I was wanting, and I have a finished product that is certainly acceptable to me.  I call that all good.  :)

I love that my mentor, Shirley, and her sister, Kathi, the proud proprietors of Haven Home Furnishings, actually had faith that my fully left-brain self could eke out enough right-brain stuff to make this happen.  Thank you, ladies, for your confidence and support.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the transformation of my nightstand.

A reminder of where we started.

The process (one coat each of three different colors).
Start with a coat of "Chalk"

Add a coat of "Victorian Purple"

Finish with a coat of "Patina"


One side

Don't forget inside the drawer

The cabinet area

Front view
So... hope you have enjoyed my first endeavor in the world of "shabby chic!"  I will say it was fun to see the piece transformed.  Since it will return to the guest room, it doesn't have to be my personal style to have a place in my home.

If you are more right-brain than I and if you enjoy transforming furniture pieces, you should really consider one of the painting classes at Haven.  Heck, the spousal-unit has already offered up a wooden barstool of his for my next transformation project!  I just have to figure out what to do with it.  I'm thinking even further ahead... to the painting and stenciling of some larger pieces!

Lord help me.  I have become a paintaholic.  Sigh.  Shirley... I blame you for all of this.

Until next post!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Heidy-Ho, Blogging Pals!

Okay.  I have told you about two furniture painting classes I have taken at Haven Home Furnishings in Lake Charles.  The first (basic) was in June.  The second (advanced) was in August.  I guess it is time for me to try out what I have learned.  But first, let me show you what I accomplished in class (with a lot of help from Shirley!).

The basic class was really learning about the Van Gogh paint product and the basic technique of painting and distressing.  We worked on practice boards and tried out the clear wax and the dark wax on each.  My results:

The second class introduced the use of stencils, embossing, and the new "metallic" paints available.  It was a frenetic class but definitely worthwhile.  Again, the practice boards were put to good use.  My results:

Emboss using a stencil then paint the embossed area again using the stencil. My error here was using a "furniture makeup" glaze that I don't care for.

LOVE the metallic paints!  Making a fun board to hang items on using the copper colored metallic paint for the knobs.

Using a stencil to add a design with multiple colors.

Lots of fun and really enjoyed learning these new techniques!

So... it's time to put up or shut up.  I'm starting with a very small project that will only involve painting and distressing.  This is a nightstand that matches two chests-of-drawers that my parents owned.  I now possess the set.  The nightstand has been used in the guest room for years now but has been in poor shape since I obtained it.  I'm excited about bringing it back to life in a new form... rather like the phoenix rising from the ashes.  We'll see.

Here are the before shots.  The outdoor shots were taken of the item as it was before the sanding began.  (MANY thanks to the spousal-unit for all his help during the sanding process!)  The indoor shots are after the sanding of the item.

Alright then.  Now you know what I will be working on for the next couple of days.  The beauty of the chalk paint is how easily and quickly it applies and dries.  I am hopeful to have the "after" shots for you in less than a week.  Whether or not I will get them posted is another matter entirely!!!

At any rate, we'll see how this goes.  Wish me luck!

Until next post...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Greetings to my Blogging Pals. Those who have been with me a while know about my participation in Project 2996. I began my participation in 2009 and plan to continue this as long as I am able to do so. I ask each of you to take a moment to remember what happened on 9/11/2001. Even if you read my tributes previously, please read them again. It's important that we see this as an individual, personal event... not just something that happened in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania over a decade ago. It affects us all and will continue to do so. I do not see the 12th Anniversary as any different from the 2nd, the 19th, or the 100th. The pain for the families is the same. But this is a tribute to their loved one!! Please read about this wonderful gentleman.
*** This was posted in 2009 as my tribute to Sgt. Maj. Larry Strickland. I repeat it here as I will continue doing so on each anniversary of 9/11 as long as I am able. There are a couple of notes and updates from 2010 in italic.

Please meet Sgt. Maj. Larry Strickland. He was 52 years old, born in Washington State, and had a Bachelor of Science degree. He had served our country in a lot of places including Germany, Washington State, Washington DC, Texas, and Virginia. He had many awards and decorations. Most devastating for me to learn was his plan to retire upon completion of 30 years of service... at the end of September 2001. After all of his service, he was close to spending more time on his hobbies (fishing, hiking, gourmet cooking, and needlepoint) and especially looking forward to spending more time with his family. SGM Strickland left behind a wife, Debra, who was the Garrison Command Sergeant Major of Fort Belvoir, VA. at the time, three adult children, and one grandson who will never know his grandfather as he was only a year old when SGM Strickland was taken. His parents also were left to deal with the untimely loss of their child.

NOTE: I posted a note to the family at and received two emails.

One was from SGM Strickland's son-in-law and read, in part:

"I came across your blog today while searching for SM Larry Strickland. I am lucky enough to be married to his daughter Julia and I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for caring enough to research this remarkable man. Everything you read about him and his character is true. He left behind an amazingly strong wife, a beautiful daughter, his two sons, and his grandson. His grandson was 4, not 1 as many newspaper articles claim, so he does remember his grandfather, and fondly."(I was SO happy to read that his grandson did remember his grandfather and wanted to share that with you all! MNC)

The other email was from SGM Strickland's daughter and read, in part:

"Mary, thank you very much for your kind words. I am Larry's daughter, and it is wonderful to know that though it's been 8 years, remembering him and this tragic event is still as important now as it was the day it happened. He was truly a wonderful man, and the best father anyone could ask for."

SGM Strickland headed out to work that day at the Pentagon as there were some meetings he deemed important enough to attend even though he could have skipped them. He had annual leave built up that needed to be used or lost. He chose to go to work. If you knew nothing more about him than that, you would know the character of the man. It was that character that had him in his office on the second floor when the wing he was in was struck by American Airlines Flight 77.

But this is a tribute to SGM Strickland's life. And I've got to tell you the things said about him and written about him are absolutely glowing!! What a wonderful thing... to have those left behind remember you so well and so lovingly. It's not just family. These were friends, co-workers, people who knew him on a "business" level where, many times, the feelings are not so great. I would suggest you take a few moments today to review three different web sites where there are tributes (and from where I gathered much of the information I am sharing with you). It really won't take that long and, thankfully, most of us did not actually know anyone who was lost that day. Perhaps it would be good to learn about at least one of them. I know it gave me a very new perspective.

Pentagon Memorial Fund - Names of the souls lost at the Pentagon are alphabetical by last name. Scroll down and click on SGM Strickland's name to read about his service career.

Columns - The University of Washington Alumni Magazine- Read a really great article here about SGM Strickland's personal life. Sounds like someone we would all like to have known.

The Washington Post - This project is a database of all of the souls lost that day and has a very nice tribute to SGM Strickland. - This is where folks can leave notes for the family. Many folks were positively impacted by SGM Strickland. Some commented here about their appreciation of the man. I invite you to take just a moment to leave a note here to let the family know the loss of their loved one is something we all remember.

9-11 Heroes - This is another site where a note can be left. Again... take a moment to leave a note on at least one of the sites. You have no idea how much this can mean to family members.

Thank you, SGM Strickland, for your service, for your honor, and for your character. I'm glad I got to know you.

We should never forget.