Saturday, March 27, 2010

In the News--Health Care Reform, Housing, and Social Security

Health Care Reform: Unless you've been in a coma for the past few days, you are aware that Congress has passed & President Obama has signed the Health Care Reform bill. It is way too much for those on the far right and way too little for those on the far left. Those of us in the middle are waiting to see how it all works out. IMHO, the insurance industry has needed reforming for a long time and I am tempted to think that a single payer system would be a lot more efficient. However, that's not what our elected representatives have given us so we shall see in a year or two how this all turns out. In the meantime, take care of yourself--eat right, get some exercise, brush & floss, rest, do a good deed--You really are responsible for taking care of yourself no matter what kind of health care system we have.

Housing: Because the housing bubble burst, some people owe more on their homes than the house will sell for. Some call this "being under water"; I call it "having been stupid and paying too much in the first place." Now some in the government think that the banks should decrease the principal owed on the house to a level that it would sell for. I wonder if these same government officials would be in favor of a plan to force people to sell their houses when the value of the house goes over the amount of the original loan?? That's why we have contracts. I pledge that if you provide me with a service I will pay you a certain amount. We both agree, spit, cross out hearts, and sign a bloody contract. I am opposed to nullifying contracts because things didn't turn out the way one planned. Contract law is what keeps order in a society.

Social Security: We are paying out more than we are taking in. This comes as a big shock to anyone??? There will have to be changes made--remove the cap, up the rate, and up the eligibility age. I suppose we are in for a huge legislative fight over this too. In the meantime, pay off your house, get out of debt, save for a rainy day--this is news to anyone???

Quote for the day:
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

I was so disappointed by this book. I really anticipated liking it because I usually like books set in the 1930's and 1940's. The World War II era home front of Britain and America is usually of great interest to me. So what went wrong? I was willing to overlook the general wordiness of the book--you know, painting a scene with a hundred words when a skillful use of five words would have been better. But what a just couldn't deal with was the unremitting depression of the story and the lack of a clear conclusion. (I realize that part of what the book is about is the lack of clarity in wartime but I still want a story to have a beginning, middle, and conclusion.) The depressing aspect is that the author spends a great deal of time getting you to know and care about the characters but you know that every one of them is either going to die or be bereaved. I was thoroughly put out with the doctor who decides to leave his practice and go to London because he lost a patient during childbirth. Then there was the doctor's wimpy wife; maybe there will be a sequel where she grows up. Anyway, it was a disappointment. Others may like it but I give it a thumbs down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

They are back!!

The hummingbirds arrived yesterday!! We've had a feeder up for about 2 weeks now just waiting for them. Yesterday morning I was sitting at the table when I heard the familiar buzz and there he was--beautiful little jewel!! JMM put up the second feeder because there will be more coming through. Before the summer is over we will have 4 feeders up. Good thing I bought a 10 lb. bag of sugar.

All is well--the swallows are back and building their nest under the eaves of the porch and now the hummingbirds. I am so thankful for these beautiful birds.

Sleep Study

I have an appointment tonight for a sleep study. I have used a CPAP for the past 4 years and it has helped me so much. Now it is time to do a re-titration to make sure that it is still at the correct setting and check out a couple of other sleep problems that I have. It is not as easy as hopping into bed at the sleep center for a good night's sleep. To begin with, there are all the wires attached to your scalp, chest, and legs. These are annoying enough on their own but, oh my, what a problem it is if you need to get up and go to the bathroom as I usually do in the night. The technician has to detach the wires from the monitor, bundle them up so that you can carry them with you, and then reattach them once you get back to bed. Then there is the not-sleeping-in-my-own-bed problem of pillows and temperature and light and someone watching you while you sleep. It's a wonder that anyone sleeps at all during a sleep study.

However, I must say that having the CPAP which allows me to get a good night's sleep is worth every bit of it!

Friday, March 19, 2010


I watched a really good Netflix movie this evening, Defiance. It is the true story of Tuvia and Zus Bielski who led a group of Jews into the forest of BelaRussia for 3 years during the Nazi invasion and occupation. By the end of the war, the group numbered 1200. Amazingly, after the war the brothers immigrated to New York City where they operated a trucking company for 30 years. Just an amazing story.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I am leaning toward making the curtains for the living room and dining room myself. I just don't want to spend the money that it would take to have custom draperies made. I've made curtains before and it's not that hard. I will make simple lined rod and pocket curtains. I will get the measurements today, look for hardware at Home Depot, and check out fabric at Cloth World.

BTW, I can cross the ceiling fans off my WTHIPO list. They were installed yesterday and if I say so myself, they look perfect. The WTHIPO list item for April will be replacing the cracked window.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sham Recovery

Robert Reich and I have our differences but he is right on the mark about the "recovery":


Oh my, Spring has arrived and my garden is in shambles. I never even got around to pruning the roses much less ordering any new roses. JMM has been out this morning pulling weeds. He left one giant thistle just to see how big it will get. Our three gorgeous plumeria are dead from the unusually long hard freezes we had this winter. The lavender is fine and we did put in 6 more; I'm tempted to turn the whole bed into lavender since it thrives in our climate, requires little care, attrracts bees and hummingbirds, and smells devine. Roses and lavender--heaven on earth. Got to get my gardening act together.
The goldfinches are gone but we have seen the first barn swallow. No hummingbirds yet but one feeder is filled and hung so that any hungry hummingbirds on their way back from Guatemala can refresh themselves.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Census Irritation

We received our census form today. Essentially there were 4 questions :
1. Names
2. Age / Birthdates
3. Are we of Hispanic heritage?
4. What race are we?

I really wish that 1/2 of the information collected was not about ethnicity/race. I think it is irrelevant; we are Americans.

The Good Wife

I am absolutely hooked on The Good Wife. What a great show! The characters are multi-dimensional and the situations are real. (I do however have a problem with how thin and perfectly coiffed everyone always is though.) Each episode leaves you wanting to find out what happens next.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Decorating

Now that the house is paid off, the decorating that has been on hold can commence. New blinds and draperies are in the works. I'm like the birds that are busily making there spring nests. There are so many things that I want to do. This weekend we are going to Home Depot for ceiling fans for 2 of the bedrooms and look at blinds for the dining and front rooms. Draperies are a little trickier--I even considered making them but am very hesitant knowing how long it takes me to get projects finished. I may end up making them once I see the cost of custom drapes though. There's paint and wallpaper projects for the kitchen and laundry room and I'd like to tile the laundry room--putting utility carpeting in the laundry room was not a good idea. Then there is furniture for the front room and a desk for the guest room. I've been patiently waiting (well maybe not so patient but waiting anyway) and now I am getting to make things pretty.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Possum in the Potty

I get home from working the evening shift around midnight. I usually let one of more of our 3 cats in or out and then go to the back to change clothes, brush my teeth, and go to bed. One of the cats will lead the way from the kitchen, down the hall and to the bathroom. On this particular night, as we were heading down the hall when Misty came to the bathroom, she looked in and came to a full stop then abruptly did a U-turn and came back toward me. Something was in the bathroom. Having one mighty hunter cat in the family leads one to be cautious in entering a room where the catch of the day might have been brought in—small snakes, birds, frogs, all have been brought inside in the past for proper admiration. Cautiously I peeked around the corner and there was a wide-eyed plump possum looking calmly back at me. She wasn't frightened, more like curious, as if to say “Well, look who else has come in from the cold; Isn't it nice and warm in here?” Oh dear, how does one get a possum out of one's bathroom?? So off I go to get JMM to figure it out. His solution was to open both front and back doors (and let in the very cold wind that was blowing which was probably why the possum wanted to come in side to begin with). He then got the broom and ushered her toward the open back door. She felt the cold wind blowing and decided that the laundry room would be much nicer and off she ambled to the laundry room which he had not remembered to close off. Behind the washer seemed like a nice cozy place for a plump possum to settle in but JMM used the broom to usher her out and into the dining room where she could go out the front door. Nope, too cold out that door also. So back we go to the kitchen. Now you might be wondering where the cats were in all this. They were every last one of them sitting on the island in the kitchen watching the people following the possum round and round. I could see what they were thinking: “What fun!! It isn't usually this lively when she comes home from work!!” After a couple of trips round the kitchen, through the dining room, and back again, I was able to block the exit from the dining room and Madam Possum went out the front door into the cold. She never seemed particularly frightened so I think she was the possum that lived in our tomato jungle last summer so that she was used to us. She obviously wanted a warm place and maybe thought there might be fresh tomatoes inside. Finally we were able to close the doors and head off to bed. I do hope Madam found a warm place out of the wind too.
In case you are wondering how she got inside in the first place, JMM confessed that he had left the back door open after dark while he went upstairs to work on his stamp collection.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Managing Paper

Remember when it was touted that computers would make us a paperless society? Ha! I don't know about you but around my place of work and at my home, keeping ourselves dug out from under the influx of paper is a never-ending task. Here are a few of the things I do to manage the paper flow.

1. Don't put the mail down--sort it directly into where it needs to go. Most of it will go directly to the recycling bag, some directly to files, and a very few to my desk to be acted upon. The thing with paper is that it grows while you sleep--you go about your business for a few days and what was a 2 inch pile has now overrun your desk, your counter tops, and every flat surface in your house.

2. Have a filing cabinet or drawer with labeled hanging folders. (No, you are not allowed to pile papers into the drawer and close the drawer. They will multiply there until you can't get the drawer open.) I have red folders for Income Tax (blood red...), yellow for insurance folders, 12 blue monthly folders, moss green folders for warranties, and bright green folders for Social Security, voter registration, employment benefits, etc.

3. The files must be cleaned out periodically. This is what I have been doing today--cleaning out my files and wondering where on earth all this paper came from. There is a fine line in determining what to keep and what to put through the shredder. I keep this year plus the previous 9 years Income Tax; if the IRS wants more than that, they'll just have to send me to prison. I keep the papers in my monthly folder for a year. Health papers are a puzzle though; what if I have to list all my doctor, dentist, and optometrist visits in my last 25 years or be denied insurance coverage? I have no idea if I went to the dermatologist in 1997. Anyway, since I have current insurance, I just keep the previous year and figure that if I ever needed to purchase insurance, they would find one way or another to either turn me down to begin with or just take my premiums and not pay my claims.

What are your best ideas for taming the paper monster??

Thought for the day:
For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice - no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service. John Burroughs