Monday, January 26, 2015

STILL NOTHIN'!!!

Heidy-Ho, Blogging Buddies!

Once again, I really have nothing at all to tell you.  There is a l-o-n-g period of time when very little takes place here... actually that's most of the time.  Mardi Gras is on its way so I guess that is something to look forward to but only if one is involved in it.  There isn't much of a true celebration here and we don't do any traveling just to party at this point in our lives.  LOL!!

We were inundated with rains for quite a while but we have been fortunate to have a few days of respite recently.  Warmer weather.  Sunshine.  All good.  With all the rain we have had over the winter, I'm guessing there should be an explosion of flora come spring!!

One of the fun things here are all of the critters.  We have a substantial number of little frogs that I believe to be tree frogs.  I have found them before in some of my plants outside.  However, they apparently make their way to a lot more than trees and plants!  The spousal-unit caught this little fella' on the back door glass one evening.  Nice that he had placed himself in such a manner that we could get good shots from "above" and "below."  :)  I really love these little guys.





I also have to tell you that the spousal-unit spotted a little woodpecker in a shrub right next to the house.  I grabbed my Sibley's bird book (the very best reference to identify!) and started looking for it.  It was not one of our usual woodpeckers.  When I finally identified it, I had to laugh out loud.  Those of you who are old enough will recall Yosemite Sam's reference to a "Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker!"  Well, that's what was in my shrub.  They apparently winter in this area although I do not recall seeing one before.  He returned to the shrub for at least four days in a row and I am keeping an eye out for him.  Real cutie!

For my Eagle-loving pals, I just popped in on the Decorah Eagles.  They are busy working on the nest!!  Since eggs begin arriving in late February, it is definitely time for them to get things prepped.  Both of them were on the nest just now.  There was a slight altercation about something with a little noise and pecking going on... but it was quickly resolved and they both went back to prepping.  It is 32 degrees with snow on the ground there as I type this.  Bookmark this link so you can check in on them this year!!  They should be in & out pretty frequently now.

Just wanted to check in with you all.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Until next post...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF IMPORT...

Heidy-Ho, Blogging Buddies!!

I am shocked to see how long it has been since my last post.  I probably shouldn't be since there were two "holiday" events in there that always create a little insanity.  But I will try to do better during 2015.

The Title of this post should tell you what to expect.  Absolutely nothing.  But I'm going to forge ahead.  You can choose to join me... or leave me and go get a cup of coffee.  Since I won't know what you decide, you won't hurt my feelings.  :)

First, I will ramble about a "Christmas crisis" narrowly averted.  My Aunt's caregivers are godsends.  You can read what I posted about them here although Carolyn is no longer working for us.  The sentiment about caregivers in general, however, remains.  They work so well together in covering for each other, swapping days when needed, and pretty much handling it all without even involving me.  These ladies are amazing and I am grateful every day for them.  Unfortunately, one of them who covers three days each week for me (Sun/Mon/Tue) texted me the Thursday morning before Christmas to advise she was undergoing emergency surgery that day!!  WHAT?!?!?  Since these ladies have become my friends over the past 6+ years, my first concern was for her health.  I replied to her and asked that someone contact me when she was out of surgery and let me know how she was doing.  My second concern was personal.  She clearly was not going to be able to work for at least two weeks which took us through Christmas and New Year's.  I would worry about time past that later.  At that moment, I just wanted to get coverage through the new year.  My other two ladies stepped up without hesitation and we were able to work out a schedule that worked for them with each taking on additional time.  The only time I was not covered for was Christmas Eve day.  My now hospitalized caregiver had agreed to work Christmas Eve for the caregiver normally scheduled for that day so she could enjoy that day with her family.  Since she would be working Christmas Day with my Aunt, she certainly deserved Christmas Eve off.  So... I contacted the service that provides me with my now-hospitalized caregiver.  I was really doubtful anyone would be able to solve the problem but I was determined to NOT ask my caregiver who was expecting Christmas Eve off to come in!!  I was already planning to pull that shift myself although I'm sure my poor Aunt would have suffered through that!!  As luck would have it, the service did have a young lady able and willing to take the 8am-8pm shift.  The usual caregiver told me she would be happy to come in at 8pm as they would be done with their Christmas celebration by then.  WHEW!!!  Not only was I off-the-hook but my Aunt was likely saved from the need to deal with me trying to fill a role I probably would not do well!  Very happy.

I could continue about nothing... but it looks like I have already babbled on long enough.  Didn't think it would take that much typing to explain my "Christmas crisis" but it did.  So I will leave you in peace for now and hope I will have something interesting to report to you soon!!

I wish you all a Happy, Safe, Healthy, & Prosperous New Year!!


Until next post...

Monday, December 15, 2014

WOO-HOO!!!! OOPS!

Heidy-Ho, Blogging Buddies!

Well, this is a mish-mash of stuff for your viewing.  The title, however, is based on the really stupid things people with a high blood-alcohol level do for fun.  More on that later.

A couple of items that caught my eye on walks.



If you have not yet been introduced to "Chef John" over at FoodWishes.com, I encourage you to check him out.  He has wonderfully humorous (and yummy!) recipe videos on YouTube.  I have tried a couple of his recipes but one of the best is the "Easy Homemade Pie Crust" filled with his Apple Pie filling recipe.  Check it out!  (I DO have the nutritional information but let's not discuss that here.)




Alrighty!  Ready for a little "Dumb and Dumber?"  Of course you are.

So... on a Wednesday evening, a couple of brothers apparently thought a little bar-hopping (or at-home celebration?) was in order.  After tanking up to a level of inebriation that is not allowed by law in conjunction with driving, they took off in the trusty pick-up truck.  Oh yeah.  That is the "Woo-Hoo!" part of this story.  A video camera trained on a locked gate recorded them ramming said gate a few times in an attempt to enter the property.  That didn't work.  They drove about and managed to drive out onto an airport runway.  Fortunately, we aren't talking about DFW or O'Hare here.  :)  Oh... and this is in a 1:00 a.m.+ time frame so we are early Thursday morning now.

What followed is open to interpretation but here are the facts... and photos.


Fact:  Pick-up headed northbound on runway.
Fact:  Pick-up brakes never applied.
Fact:  Pick-up rammed into a "locator" at north end of runway.
Fact:  Pick-up continued THROUGH the "locator", dragging a good portion of the equipment along with it, "flew" across a small drainage area, and finally "touched down" on the other side, creating substantial ruts in the grass with the tires.
Fact:  One of the brothers called the police.  (Is this really wise considering your condition and what you have just done?)
Fact:  Police had both taken to E.R. to be checked out.  Upon their release from the E.R. (only one had a minor "scrape" across one side of his face), both went directly to jail.  They did not pass GO.  They did not collect $200.

I think the pictures will tell you all else you need to know.  I have nothing further to tell.  Don't know the total damage to the pick-up... but the "locator" damage is going to likely run about $100K.  This, clearly, is the "Oops!!" part of the tale.

Why was no one decapitated in this alcohol-induced incident?  All I can point to is that whole thing about Drunks and Babies.  Look closely at the last photo for the tire ruts in the grass out past the pavement.






Some days you just have to wonder.

Until next post, have a terrific (and safe!) holiday season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKS FOR... THE LITTLE THINGS

Heidy-Ho, Blogging Buddies!

Reckon it's Turkey Day for some of you... perhaps Ham or more interesting eats for others.  Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy it thoroughly!

I know there will be plenty of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade to go around.  I reckon there will be plenty of "things to be thankful for" that you can read at leisure.  I'm just going to point out that the little things can certainly be worth a thanks, too!

Without further ado... random things...

A lovely pair of fowl happened upon at a very unlikely place!  Expect the unexpected.




Some more fowl hanging out at the golf course pond one frosty morning.  Big flock of Canadian Geese!


So... in the window of a "Stop & Rob" in a nearby town, I saw this signage.  Made me think of ALL of the places an absent "H" would change the meaning!  A few:  "Hare" becomes "Are."  "Shoot" becomes "Soot."  "Char" becomes "Car."  You get the picture.


Always a few nature moments on my morning walks.  Recent ones.




Finally, I gotta' tell you that household items are becoming more and more technological.  While some of the technology makes perfect sense and can be considered extremely helpful/useful, I have to state there are certain things that just make me laugh.  WHHHAAAAAAATTT?????





Oh my.  Some things are just inexplicable.  I'm certain there will be those who purchase.

At any rate... I am thankful for the "little things" this year.  Those that make me smile.  Those that make me ponder.  Those that accomplish both.  And especially those that make me laugh out loud.

Enjoy your weekend.  I hope you see something to smile about!!

Until next post...

Monday, November 17, 2014

NIGHTMARE ON OBAMACARE STREET

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...