Saturday, July 28, 2012

In 2008 We Lost Fritzy

Fritzy was a funny little guy -- he came from the pound in Ottawa, Kansas, and he even had papers to prove his pure linage.  He had been tied up outside a house until the police rescued him.  Our groomer called us one Sunday night to tell us a little boy was languishing in the the Ottawa pound and needed a new family.  We found out later that he had so many people wanting to adopt him that the pound couldn't decide what to do with him - plus they loved having him around.  But they also knew our groomer who was a breeder of show Schnauzers so Fritzy came to live with us.  He adored Wolfgang.  He was his boon companion and when Wolfie died, Fritzy hid under the bed for a month, until we gave in and adopted Gus from the same pound.  We had to put him down four years ago due to kidney failure.  He remains, always, in our hearts.  His ashes are here on the computer desk, along with Wolf and Milly's.

Friday, July 27, 2012

He Plans to Live a Long Time -- in Pain

We visited the Ortho this morning -- and Hubby now has every right to look at me and mutter, "Nah, nah, nah-na, told you so."

His knees are terrible.  Really, really terrible.  Nothing can fix them except seriously major surgery and metal inserts and bone sawing. 

We hated the office -- I had to go complain that we had sat in the waiting room 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes in an exam room and nobody had seen us. The nurses and staff seemed much more interested in co-pay than in patients. But then, finally, doctor charisma walked in and we loved him. 

Dr. Richard Synder
First off, he only does knees and shoulders.  He looked at Hubby's knees before he looked at Hubby's x-rays.  He also looked at Hubby while he actually looked at Hubby's medical records and did a thorough questioning about the cranial aneurysm, the A-Fib, and the congestive heart failure.  Then he had Hubby lay out and he felt and bent and flexed the knees.  And he winched audibly.  "You hurt.  You are in a world of pain."  And he went to look at the x-rays.

On return, he sat down on his stool and addressed us both.  "No more injections.  They won't work on your knees."  Hubby had come in thinking he would have more gel injected into his knee caps -- anything not to have knee surgery which he has been adamantly against since the beginning, but both his internist and his wife were slowing wearing him down.  

"The only surgery we can suggest requires shaving off bone and inserting metal between the knee joints.  I am not recommending you do this.  Your heart condition, the aneurysm, the diabetes, all say you are really not a good candidate for this surgery."

Then he proceeded to tell us how it could be done and how the meds we currently take would have to be diminished and then replaced and what could happen when we did this.  He was very, very thorough in his explanations and he answered all our questions, patiently.  He wasn't defeatist.  If Hubby could not stand the pain, then he would perform the surgery.  But if Hubby really did not want the surgery, then he championed Hubby's decision, claiming it was the smart one if Hubby could stand the world of hurt he was currently experiencing.  

Here's the thing -- I, personally, could NOT stand the pain Hubby is in.  I would jeopardize my life to get the pain to stop -- and according to our surgeon, this would not ensure the pain would stop.  Or that infection would not set in.  Or that Hubby would not have a pulmonary embolism during the surgery. Or that Hubby would ever really be able to walk properly.  The odds that he could ease the pain were 95% in his favor -- but that 5% problem area remained -- just for the knees to heal properly.  The odds on the heart problems not getting worse were considerably less. 

I explained what Hubby was doing to try and improve his knees -- and the surgeon thought all of it was super fantastic.  "Keep up the good work."  Then he suggested water aerobics -- and gave Hubby the script for the wonderful Baptist pool where Hubby can work out daily. 

Finally the doc set up an appointment for the next month to see how things are going.  "If and when you decide this pain isn't worth it any more, then we can revisit knee surgery.  Until then I heartily recommend your current course of action.  We know how to go about this surgery -- but it is dangerous and it could threaten your life."

I had so hoped that Hubby would agree to the knee surgery before we meet with the surgeon.  Now, finally, I completely understand why this surgery is not currently in Hubby's best interest.  He is willing to endure the agony of his knees because having surgery on them could, in his condition, kill him.  And he wants to live.  I'm so glad we had this appointment -- for the first time in three years I feel at peace with Hubby's decision to not have knee replacement surgery.  And I know now how truly Hubby is convinced he wants to live -- if he can endure this pain to survive, his instincts are very, very strong.  Thank God! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This and That

Things I've been cogitating about this month:
  • VW has a new ad out (at least new to me) where a guy drives all over in his new VW and slaps the hands of everyone he encounters (including a dog).  The point of the ad is that the Beetle is "back."  At the end of the ad, they show the price -- $19,700+.  In 1968 I bought a brand new VW - for $1,900 -- flat.  Really.  Back -- at a heft in price of $17,000? 
  • Hubby is losing both his internist and cardiologist -- and we are UPSET.   Both doctors are moving onward and upward.  We knew the internist would eventually leave us -- Hubby belongs to a really good clinic associated with our neighborhood hospital and in their practice, you are assigned interns and residents until they graduate from the program.  Our doctor who has seen us through heart problems is now leaving, to return home to California.  We have trusted and liked him very much and wish him well.
  • The previous doctor assigned us by the clinic we did not like.  But Hubby is very vocal when he is displeased with his care and requested that he be replaced -- and he was.  Then he requested the one after that be replaced and he was.  Finally we met Dr. Espiritu and have been very pleased working with him.  Now we start fresh.  However Espritu said the clinic actually held a meeting to discuss who would next be blessed with serving us -- and Espiritu claimed he explained that it needed to be someone who openly communicates and is not headstrong -- because Hubby will shut down quickly the moment he's not happy with the way he's "handled."  We had to laugh -- but they are right. 
  • The cardiologist, though is another matter, altogether.  We met him in the hospital and then requested that he be assigned Hubby's case.  He is an older gentleman, quiet, respectful (especially of our time), very, very efficient, and helpful in all matters.  He communicates with the other doctors that Hubby sees regularly.  We had learned to trust him implicitly and now we are losing his valuable advice.  I always knew if Dr. Dwyer was not upset by Hubby's condition that we were still on track -- even when Hubby himself was showing signs of deep concern.  We will stay with the same heart clinic -- but it will take a while to transfer our complete trust in their care to a different doctor that we have not selected.  
  • On a lighter note, I read that Weekly Reader -- after over 50 years of service to grade school children -- has been sold and discontinued.  I loved the Weekly Reader both as an elementary student and as a teacher.  The articles were always entertaining, well written, and on target for current events.  Sad to hear that one more nice remembrance from my childhood is gone. 

  • Then I read that Chad Everett -- Dr. Gannon from Medical Center on TV -- died.  I liked that show.  He was an actor that didn't create scandals -- in fact he had been married to the same woman for 47 years until she died last year..  He was only 75 years old and died from lung cancer.

  • Finally, economically things are going to be rather tight around here for a while.  Gussie has to have a full dental -- and we had to speed up the process because his teeth are infected and he has been in pain.  At his wellness exam early in July we learned his teeth -- as always -- were in terrible shape.  It had only been 8 months since his last $700 extractions.  Now we needed to do it again.  So we made an appointment for their earliest opening.  Then Gussie got all wispy and whinny and starting making "curl the lip" faces at us -- so we called to see if any dental appointment was available sooner.  The vet said, "Bring the boy in.  He shouldn't be in pain."  So in we went -- and got pain pills and antibiotics and the vet saw Gussie, the wimp, snarl at when she tried to poke his teeth.  At that, they scheduled an extra day for the dentist and Gussie has the last of his teeth removed come Monday.  Just seeing him for the snarl and the pills was $128.   I counting on the $1,000+ bill come Monday.  And then to make things even tighter -- Luie is schedule to keep Gussie's original appointment for mid-August.  He won't be nearly as costly -- something over $300, though.  

The weather remains too hot.  The cleaning has slowed considerably.  Cooking is minimal.  Hubby's eating lots of melon and I'm happy with cherries and watermelon. We're getting ready to ship out a couple of loads of books to Houston so maybe I can start again unloading in the computer room.  Right now the living room floor is filled with sacks of books -- I've got to clear some space to keep going.  Hubby wants to sell some high end shoes on e-bay so we're trying to get organized to do that.  I've downloaded a really nice recipe program for the MAC -- MacGourmet Deluxe -- and I've entered over 100 recipes in it.  This means I've gone through one whole box of recipe cards that I'd saved for years and years -- and eliminated six cookbooks from the shelves.  We get up late -- 8 a.m., sometimes 9.  We go to bed late (for us) around 12:30 or 1 a.m.  And we take naps when we feel like.  Retirement is still good -- but life itself can sometimes be trying -- and it's certainly proving both hot and expensive. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Just Saying

I'm reading nasty blogs and scathing reports about how people think the popular novel 50 Shades of Gray is beneath them, they are not interested in a little kinky sex (us Puritans, we like the missionary position, don't yacha know), and damning all women (and a few men) who have found enjoyment in the novels.

I'm one of those women -- who enjoyed the books.  Did I realize it wasn't reality?  Well, of course.  Would I like to meet the man who could get "it up" 13 times a day with no effort -- actually, no -- that would just tire me out incredibly.  Would I like to have 27 orgasms in one really fantastic tryst?  Well, maybe . . . but I'd probably really rather go to sleep after two good ones (okay, three or four?).  Do I want to partake in sadistic sex rituals -- NOT ON YOUR LIFE!  Pain is NOT part of the bargain in a sexual encounter.  But maybe I do like a little bit of the "take charge" guy on occasion -- the one who cannot wait to ravish my private bits and pieces or who is anxious to please me repeatedly before taking pleasure for himself.   The one who DEMANDS I enjoy myself first.  Does this make me a crass reader who has no taste in literature?  According to the on-line naysayers, definitely. 

Well, personally, I think all those fantasy sci-fi readers who like made-up languages and impossible aliens and worlds away from Earth are a bit weird, themselves.  What's the difference between a little sexual make-believe and creating a whole universe of vampires, werewovles, and elves -- all who usually (often) have sex in some form or other -- or at least a lot of heavy romance before the "cut"?

I also really enjoy cozy mysteries -- they're sweet and homespun.  They don't have chopped up body parts or people drinking blood on every page.  Actually, the same is true of 50 Shades -- it has sex but it does NOT have violence.  I've read everything Jan Karon ever wrote - and enjoyed the religious world she has populated through her Father Tim novels.   I haven't read Moby Dick because I hated it and couldn't get passed the first 100 pages -- but I loved Mockingbird, anything by John Irving,  all the Harry Potter's (see - we with our perverted sex drives can even read children's / YA lit).  Shakespeare, Dickens, and Jane Austen are perennial favorites -- and nobody's cleaner than Austen. 

So back off all you snobs who think you are better than reading 50 Shades.  It may not be your cup of tea (like sci fi is NOT for me) -- but don't trash talk those of us who get a little thrill from reading about a life we'll never have -- and we know it.  After all, any of you EVER really read Romeo and Juliet and actually understood it -- now, talk about "dirty."
Edited to add:  My friend Adi in Singapore found this wonderful review of the book -- and I like it so much that you should check it out (her note is in the comments).  

Guardian Review of 50 Shades of Gray

Friday, July 20, 2012

Adjusting and Boiling

Life seems to have slowed to a lazy, unproductive crawl around our little house.  Maybe it's just an adjustment period -- getting settled into a lack of "enforced" routine as I start out my first season of retirement.

Maybe it's a lack of initiative on my part -- facing cleaning up the rest of the computer room is becoming quite daunting.  I just don't know where to put all those things I should give away to other people and NOT just donate to the City Union Mission.  Also the next labor in that room now requires climbing and I'm not looking forward to standing on the high step-stool and sorting blouses, jackets, vests, blazers, etc.

When Hubby first hung the top rod between the bookshelves for my blouses, I could just barely reach it.  But I found out this year I've shrunk a full inch since 2011.  Well, actually in 2011 I think I'd shrunk a 1/2 an inch -- but I wouldn't accept it.  Now, I've got proof I've actually become 5 foot 5 inches -- and I'm supposed to be 5'6" and once was proud of it.  I wasn't too tall or too short, my feet reached the floor in airplane seats and I (once) balanced out girth and height.  No longer. 

But the real truth for our current lack of ambition is probably the heat.  This heat is unrelenting.  We don't get any rain and the earth is dry, cracked and barren brown.  Even the weeds have died.

We just had our foundation repaired because of dry earth during the 1990's -- and now this.  Hubby was out watering the foundation this morning.  We can't afford to have this newly repaired one bow again.  The weather person this morning explained we have seven more days ahead of temperatures over 100 degrees.  Some days we are hotter than Phoenix, AZ.  Usually we are hotter than Houston, TX.  I always knew couldn't live in either place -- I couldn't take the heat.  Now it's worse here than at any point in my lifetime.

My father told stories about the summers of the 1930's when the heat in Kansas City reached over 100 day after day.  I gather this was during the dust bowl days in Kansas and Oklahoma.  Of course, this was before air conditioning.  He told how folks would take a blanket and pillow out to Swope Park and everyone would sleep on the grass, letting what cool air there was waft over them.  If you know about Swope Park today you can't imagine such a thing.  Actually, I can't think of any park in the city where you'd be safe to sleep outside all night long.  But hundreds did it during the 1930's according to Dad.  They also slept on their front porches or in their back yards.  Anything to get away from the sweltering heat. 

We're taken to making our meals in the crockpot so we don't heat up the kitchen.  It's hard to eat anything hot, anyway.  Sandwiches and fruit have become the staples in this household.  The dogs can't go with us anywhere.  The AC runs almost constantly -- and we have it set at 82 degrees.  At night we have to turn it off so it will get some rest.  Thankfully the house is pretty well insulated, so once the AC goes off we remain "relatively" cool -- just never cold.  If you stir around, doing housework, you sweat.  Which is undoubtedly another reason I'm not being very productive. 

No end in sight for our heat and drought woes.  We're making national news with it -- along with wild fires and crazy people shooting up movie theaters (Colorado has had quite a spat of bad luck lately).  I guess I'll just keep downloading those wonderful 99 cent novels from Amazon and studying my travel books on the Mid-Atlantic states and wait for fall. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We are clearing out the second bedroom which we call the closet / computer room.  Living in a house built in the early 1950's means we have severely limited closet space.  Many, many years ago -- we bought the house in 1973 -- Hubby put up two room length poles on the inside wall of the second bedroom -- stretching from one bookcase to another for anchors.  On these poles I have hung / stored short sleeved tees on the bottom pole and short sleeved shirts on the top for summer.  In winter the short sleeved garments went to the basement and long sleeves and sweaters / sweats replaced them. 

Guilty admission -- I like clothes.  I also love shoes.  Once I owned over 100 pairs of high end shoes -- however, plantar fasciitis took care of those lovely shoes and relegated me to "your grandma's ugly shoes" for the rest of my life.  Evidently I have transferred my love of shoes which I can no longer buy in great number (because now every single ugly pair costs upwards of $400) to my clothing fetish. 

If you walked into the second bedroom, now a crammed closet of a room with a desk for the computer, you could see clearly that I owned enough tees, fleeces, sweatshirts, blouses, blazers, jackets, vests to outfit an army.  The poles that extend the length of the room can no longer hold even a season's worth of tops. 

My vision was to clear out all the things I would no longer need in retirement. I would leave the poles sparsely populated and the room would no longer resemble a walk-in closet.   Clearly, I would need lots of tee shirts in my retirement phase but since I was no longer going out on professional assignments, the blouses and blazers and jackets could be sent off to City Union Mission. 

I started on the bottom pole this morning -- the one holding short sleeved tees.  I filled up a trash bag for the Mission -- one of those huge, heavy duty bags, not the average sized ones.  I also made a "maybe"  pile of tops that were funny and nice but maybe I could afford to relegate to the homeless heap.  When I was done, the bottom pole was still so overloaded all the tees wouldn't fit on it. 

The "maybe" pile of shirts quickly became a "certainty" pile and I added them to the trash bag.  Then I started all over again.  Had I worn this in the last two years?  No.  Okay, I could get rid of it.  Did it have shoulder pads -- yes, but it was really a nice fit.  I had just told my sister-in-law that anything still having a shoulder pad was so dated it needed to be discarded.  Sigh.  Okay; gone. 

After the second run through, I still had nine (you read that right -- 9!) black tees.  Some had interesting designs but a couple were just plain black.  Now every overweight woman will tell you that black is a basic color for us.  Nine might be reasonable.  But I also had five gray tees.  And five green tees.  Then there were 13 blue tees - in various shades of blue from teal to navy.  I also had six red tees; seven pink tees (I look really nice in pink), one purple tee (maybe I need a couple of more purple tops?), four brown / tan / cream tees, and -- wait for it -- yes!  17 white tees.  Oh, gracious.

Were you keeping track?  I still had 67 tees hanging just from the bottom pole.   I could wear a different shirt for 67 days in a row.  That is simply obscene.

And worse yet -- some of the tees are still in the basement for washing, some are in the winter stack which I haven't even sorted yet, some are hanging on the filing cabinet because I couldn't face filling A SECOND bag of my gorgeous tees (at least not today).   I bet when I'm finished I have close to 100 tee shirts -- that's not counting blouses, vests, sweats, fleeces, and blazers. 

I swear to you I only kept the really nice tees, the ones that fit perfectly, the ones I liked and actually wore (but clearly not very often since I had so many).  Counting the hangers I returned to the basement after the bagging the give-away shirts, I had eliminated 38 from my store.   That was less than half of the 105 (help me!) that I had sorted through (with still more to go). 

My sister-in-law has asked what I would like for Christmas.  I always tell her that I love interesting tee shirts -- and she has been bountiful in the past with a couple of my favorites, most of which I have now worn almost out and put in the sleep shirt pile (oh! I forgot about all those shirts in the pajama drawers!).  The awful thing is when I look at funny tee-shirts with great logos, I want one.  I still like to have shirts from the places we visit.  I have political tee-shirts from the candidates I've supported.  I have shirts from the great Broadway shows we've seen.  I have musical shirts, Schnauzer shirts, Wyandotte High School Bulldog shirts (about six of these I wear frequently).  We are planning on going to Williamsburg in the autumn -- and guess what?  The first thing I want from there is a tee declaring that I visited "Historic Williamsburg!" 

But where will I store it?  My vision of the sparsely populated tee shirt pole is in tatters.  I only hope I do better when I hit the blouse / vest / jacket / blazer pole.  Maybe some of those wonderful tees can move up a pole?  However, looking at that pole now while I'm computing, I feel a deep sense of foreboding. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Owl

I got this fabulous story via e-mail from my dear friends Debby and Lou.  Lou wrote the article, Debby took the pictures.  Both volunteer for Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park, but Debby is the primary worker there.  I've removed the names of the participants but the story of the rescued owl is touching -- and satisfying.  Both Debby and Lou donate an invaluable resource to our city through their efforts at the Center (Debby has twice won their volunteer of the year award).

Here's is Lou's delightful recounting:

I started this email on Monday, June 25th. Please use that as a base date.

About 7:30 last night I was reading a book, John Ringo – thud and blunder military SF, and Debby was playing cards on the PC. An email came in from the duty Friends of Lakeside night calls person looking for someone to go to Liberty, Missouri (20+/- miles away) and pickup an owl reported as ‘down along a fence with a possible broken wing.)

Now the Center in general does not do pickups. We take critters if you will bring them to us. However, raptors are another story. They require special handling since they are dangerous. When injured and cornered, they have a habit of rolling onto their backs and using their feet for defense. Once they ‘foot’ the aggressor, they lock the joints in their feet and hang on. This is most uncomfortable to would be human rescuers.

We left about 8:00 PM with two 3-cell flash lights, two pairs of welder’s gloves, a large cardboard box, a full roll of duct tape, a large bath towel, a medium wool blanket, a large army blanket and our bird first aid kit.

We got to the address about 8:40 and yup, there along the fence was a smallish Barred Owl. The capture plan is to: put on the gloves, throw the smallest cloth item possible over the bird (the blankets should not be used if possible since they weigh enough to possibly smother the bird before it is secure), reach under the blanket and grab the feet, throw off the blanket, secure the wings with your other hand and your body, transfer the bird to the box and close the box.

You have to look closely, but the owl is on the top large branch of the tree almost in the center of the picture. 

As with combat, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Toss the towel onto the bird. The bird crawls between the towel and fence joint and heads right, Grab at the bird, catch a wing –oops, this bird may have a damaged wing – let go the wing and grab a foot, gotcha. Move forward on knees while the other foot is trying to trash the holding glove and grab that second foot, really gotcha. The wings are thrashing like crazy (a good sign of no compound fracture or shoulder injury, and he is trying to bite through a glove thumb.

The box appears, to heck with controlling the wings, put the bird into the box and carefully fold in one wing and then one box flap. Fold in the other wing and the other box flaps. Secure the box flaps. VINCERA! Take a few deep breaths and relax.

All of this time. Debby has been behind and to my right rear wearing another pair of gloves as my backup and has been giving me instructions at various, generally increasing, volumes. Debby knows more about what we are doing but is not as agile as I am so we have a good division of labor. She was the one who supplied the box exactly when it was needed. The couple who called for help stayed safely out of the way. Good folks.

While I moved the box to the truck and it’s AC, 97 out, Debby got the information we need for the check-in log from the couple, explained that a compound fracture, or joint fracture was generally untreatable and the bird would have to be put down, and collected our stuff, She also promised to keep the callers informed of the bird’s progress.

When we got home, we transferred the bird to a larger box, Home Depot medium moving, and fed it some thinly sliced eye of the round with tweezers. It ate three small pieces and refused more. The new box had rolled towels as a nest and a water dish.

This morning we were sitting in the Lakeside lot at 8:00 AM. As folks came in, we found out that the director, scheduled to work, was going to the hospital after having a tick in her ear for five days. The next time I see her, I’ll call her by her new Indian name: Chieftess Ear Tick.

About 9:00, the staff scheduled person came in.  They first had to deal with the citizens’ queue of a fawn, from another county which we are not supposed to take but did anyway because it had infected ulcerated eyes and needed to be put down and was, and a fairly adult rabbit.  She weighed the bird, 711 grams – think 711 raisins -- and gave its wings a check while I held it. This time it footed the palm of one of the gloves. Better the glove than my hand.

She then put the bird into a holding cage until it could be looked at by a more knowledgeable person. We checked back in the afternoon. The director was there, the medicos disagreed about the tick so I am holding off on the Indian name, and she had evaluated the bird and found no problems other that dehydration and lack of food.

Poor little owl -- he really is small. 

When Debby and I looked in on him, he did the normal beak chatter warning. There were two eviscerated mice on his perch. The plan is more tubed water and food for a few days. If not responding as expected, x-rays to check for damage and whatever. If responding okay, a week or two in the flight pens and then release. That will be back where he came from and the actual release will probably be performed by the calling couple.

By his feathers, this bird was hatched this spring. By his small size, he is assumed to be a male. He may even be a ‘brancher’ who has left the nest and is still being fed by mom and dad. He may have run into the fence on his first attempt at flight.

Now it gets ‘interesting’. While we were waiting around, the FOLNC president walked in and told us that she was off to Columbia to be with her mother for a few days. She rehabs skunks at home. She had just brought 17, five inches of body, babies in for the NC to care for while she was gone and she needed help setting them up in a large outside cage. Debby and I assisted. Lug some small sub cages into place, food bowls, water bowls and etc. Finally there were two fairly large plastic tubs containing the babies. Sharon divided the littles between the small cages and we all walked away with only the slightest sniff of eau de skunk.

Now it is Tuesday afternoon. Debby and I went to the center with our camera. The owl is looking a bit better but is still not as much on his feed as expected. More observation and tube feeding is planned.

Two weeks have passed – the main problem appears to have been heat exhaustion.  The owl finally perked up and ate well – and was really nasty and aggressive.  No danger of him imprinting – he doesn’t like humans and he wanted OUT!

It was too hot for a release the first two days it was scheduled – 105 is not good for a bird that suffered from the heat.

Sunday, July 7, was cooler, so that was the big day.  We loaded up the truck and set off to Liberty.  We were a bit apprehensive, because he hadn’t been flying and we might have to borrow a ladder and physically put him on a suitable limb. 

Everything went perfectly!  We were releasing him in the same area he was found in.  The woman who had called wanted to help.  We all carried the cardboard carrier to the woods that border her yard (the bird actually fits into a standard veterinary cardboard carrier).  I set the carrier on its side and the woman who started the process got to open the carrier up.  WHOOSH.  The bird shot out of there like a bat out of hell – and flew up to a branch about 20 feet off the ground.  He then flew to another branch even higher.  He was last seen headed northeast, flying over the trees.

A good day for all.


PS:  He looks huge in the portrait but very small in the tree.  He weighed 711 grams when he came in and 744 grams when he graduated.

Monday, July 09, 2012


Hubby went to the emergency room on 4/30 because he couldn't walk and his back was "killing" him.  This was the diagnosis for the Baker's cyst behind his knee and the X-rays of his back showed massive arthritis but no other damage.  We were sent home with 'scripts and had a doctor's appointment with his own GP that afternoon.  We were not admitted to the hospital. 

The cost from our wonderful Research Hospital:  $15,780.  We are not complaining about the cost.  Hubby enters with heart problems and the competent, caring staff at Research gives him immediate, undivided attention.  They don't spare on the TLC or waste time having Hubby sit around in a waiting room.  They see us N O W and make sure that we aren't in serious distress. 

We were charged $65 on admittance to the ER.   We paid $5.00 to see the GP that afternoon.  We paid $10.00 for the two scripts that were written for us.   That day we spent a total of $80.00 on Hubby's recovery. 

Today we got the bill that hadn't been covered by Hubby's Medicare / Coventry insurance. 


Everything else was covered. 

Added to the $80.00 -- we spent $115.00 total for costs of over $20,000 by the time the all the doctors had submitted their bills along with the meds. 

Medicare is wonderful.  With medical bills like this, we simply couldn't afford to have me retire unless we had decent coverage.  I hear and read all the complaints about the social security system and Medicare / Medicaid but for those of us in dire need of health care, this system is keeping us alive.  I'm grateful.  Very, very grateful.  Everyone should have this kind of good care available to them. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Favorite Things on Saturday, July 7, 2012

Things that I'm loving right now:
  • Closet cleaning in the computer room:  

 We live in a house with very small closets (1950's era) so the bedroom closet is all mine.  Many years ago we moved most of Hubby's clothes into the living room closet, which is actually the coat closet.  He never wanted to go to the back bedroom for his things.    First his shirts made it into the coat closet, then his slacks.  Still, we never actually cleaned out the closet for him -- he just gradually took over until most of the things stored there belonged to him.  A few coats remained at the sides, hats were on the top shelve along with the unused light bulbs and cookie sheets and duet piano music.  On the closet floor we stored anything we couldn't find room for in the house -- huge packages of toilet paper from Sam's, boots, dust rags, paper towels.  The coats pretty much gravitated into the computer (second bedroom) closet, along with Hubby's ties, suspenders, shoes he wasn't wearing, his sweaters, shoes I didn't wear but couldn't bear to part with and shelving we weren't using. 

Yesterday we started cleaning out the computer room closet.  We found 15 pairs of slacks Hubby had forgotten he owned.  They went into the front room closet with the rest of his clothing.  Out of that front closet we removed all the clothing and paraphernalia that wasn't Hubby's.  We found coats in our garage, in the front living room, and on the floor of the computer room.  We trash-bagged all the coats neither of us wanted, all Hubby's ties, and all the shoes we hadn't worn (except for a $400 pair of Ecco's that Hubby had NEVER worn and looked at in disbelief).  At least 10 coats and jackets have been discarded, but we still have way too many stored because Hubby kept looking at his coats and thinking they were in really good condition (like his trench coat on the left).  I had an easier time putting things in the discard pile -- some of my old coats actually had shoulder pads in them!  I had trouble dumping fleeces and jackets, though.  

Now the computer room closet has been cleared of the junk.  All the retained coats are on good hangers (ones that won't bend or break when heavy coats are pulled from them).  Hubby's 36 sweaters are neatly folded and on the top shelf while all the ones with piles have been put aside for donation.  The shoes we both had saved were so old that they were once again in style -- but I'm never going to wear high heels again -- and these lovely shoes were hooker high.  One sad pair was so old the soles had disintegrated on us and when we opened the box we initially thought that cookies had been stored in it. 

Finally, because we had moved so much junk out of the computer room closet, the floor was empty.  I was able to move all the stored winter clothing of my sweaters, Hubby's winter pants, my fleece sleepwear onto the closet floor so we would not have to shlep the big bags of winter stuff from the basement ever again.   How cool is that?

When I open the closet door, both in the living room and in the computer room, I smile at the neatness and the organization. 
  • Donating bags of used clothing and other sundry junk to City Union Mission for resale.
Hubby has those huge trash bags that kids sell door to door and we've been filling them with our discarded donations for the City Union Mission (the KC help  for the homeless).  We took over the first load yesterday.  Today went the second load.  All the coats, jackets, shoes, ties, dresses I would no longer wear, all my Christmas clothing -- all donated to a good cause.  And two of our closets have been cleaned and organized.  It does one's heart good.  We've got a lot more to donate, though. 

City Thrift Store -- many of the less fortunate shop here, but it's also become a chic place to pick up unusual and hip items for little of nothing. 

  • A slab or ribs and a quart of potato salad from Gates Barbecue
Good lord, I haven't had a full slab all to myself in years -- and this slab was the best EVER!  Honestly, I just don't know how one can not L O V E Gate's ribs.  We went to the restaurant on 47th and Paseo and got take-out so the doggies could have a little outing too in this 105 degree weather.  Hubby had the pork on a bun because he loves their fries.  I decided after all the closet cleaning to treat myself to a full slab of pork yumminess and I've been in heaven ever since.  Of course, the dogs think I'm a goddess because I can dole out pork ribs every couple of hours.  Gates also makes delicious potato salad -- it's mild, sweet, AND spicy all at once, so I ordered a full quart.  Tomorrow Hubby's baking pork chops and we're serving it with the Gates salad.
  • Central air conditioning.
Thank you Lord! for a fully functioning house AC unit.  Without it I think both Hubby and I would be dead.  Just peeling eggs in this heat causes a full body sweat (I know, I tried it for some tuna salad yesterday).  Our electric bill for June is $163 -- but that's a small price to pay for staying alive. 
  • Jasper's Vinegar and Oil Salad Dressing
I found out that the wonderful Oil and Vinegar salad dressing that makes the plain old ice berg lettuce from Marco Polo's deli (which is the same as Jasper's Italian Restaurant without the price tag and service) so fabulous is sold by the bottle.  I'm consuming platefuls of salad since I bought a bottle.   I get up at 3 a.m. and eat salad.  This stuff is pure heaven.  Unfortunately, Jasper's is currently closed for their annual July vacation, but as soon as their reopening, I'm pricing the stuff by the case. 

  • Novels under $4.00 on my Kindle.
I have been a downloading fool this summer.  I keep expecting the Kindle to belly-up and tell me I've got to delete something, but so far so good.  I just got 30 new either free or nearly free mysteries so when it's too hot to clean, I can read. My total download fee for 30 novels was $7.50.  Now when I wake up at 3 a.m. I can read myself back to sleep -- or stay awake all night digging into various new mystery experiences. 
  • Paychecks for not working.
Both social security and KPERS arrived on time this month, my first month receiving full retirement benefits.  I LOVE retirement.  Nancy, a good friend, emailed us the opening week offer from the Heartland Theater (tickers at $2.50 each) and we could call and make arrangements to go on -- Wednesday nigh!  We can go to the theater ANY night of the week and not worry about getting up the next morning!

Now if Hubby would only feel better, the weather would cool off just a little, and the gouty toe would decide to ease up (every frickin' July, man!) life would be nearly perfect! 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Dreaming of the Cold Weather

Never thought I'd admit this, but snow and cold sound so good now after unending days of temps over 100 degrees. 

The music on this snow video is absolutely lovely -- turn up your sound!   Though I wasn't exactly preparing myself for Christmas, yet. 

Chris de Burgh -- When winter comes.

And just a reminder that some day we will see snow again:

Brrr!  and Yum!  

Enrolling in Hogwarts

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!


Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest." 

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).


Well, not so sure this is the group I'd choose, if choosing were an option, but still -- it's better than being selected to join Slytherin.  I tested higher for Slytherin than Griffindorf, though (by 2 whole points).  The worst match for me was Hufflepuff.   

78 points -- Ravenclaw
67 points Slytherin
65 points Griffindorf
59 points Hufflepuff

I guess I'm Ravenclaw by large majority.  

Wonder if there's a 50 Shades of Gray quiz.  I'm fascinated by the fact that people either love or hate the book / series, but nobody goes, "Eh, whatever."  Tina Fey wrote in EW that she "simply wasn't into that kind of thing" once she'd picked up the book and read the opening page.  Snob. 

Take the most scientific Harry Potter Quiz ever created:  

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Celebrate the 4th

Luie says we need to get some pictures of him on the MAC.  Meanwhile, we're still struggling with the PC.  However, Gus AND Luie send greetings for a cool 4th of July. Whose got watermelon? 

Monday, July 02, 2012

Surprising News

Hubby has become a news hound.  The heat and pain keep him indoors and often in bed a lot of the time lately.  For the past week, he's become hooked on CNN (which is far better than being hooked on Walker, Texas Ranger, let me tell you!). A lot of the news we're been watching has been startling.

First, Kansas City has set a record for the warmest first six months in her history.  We are also having the second driest six months in our history.  Gary Lezak, weatherman for Chanel 41, posted this on his blog today:

 As you can see below, we are forecasting the heat wave to get to at least eleven days before a possible break:
Heat Wave June-July 2012
  • Day 1, June 27: 102°
  • Day 2, June 28: 105°
  • Day 3, June 29: 102°
  • Day 4, June 30: 101°
  • Day 5, July 1: 99°
  • Day 6, Today: 96° Forecast
  • Day 7, Tuesday: 100° Forecast
  • Day 8, Wednesday: 102° Forecast
  • Day 9, Thursday: 102° Forecast
  • Day 10, Friday: 101° Forecast
  • Day 11, Saturday: Near 100° Forecast
  • Day 12, Sunday: Possible change?
Second, I was surprised to read about the split between Tom Cruise and his wife, Katie Holmes.  Actually, to be honest, I kind of got a perverse thrill out of it.  I had a bad reaction to Cruise during the 2000's, but lately I've been getting over that and I liked his last Mission Impossible Movie.  I didn't go see the rock star thing -- but the pictures of Cruise at 50 were pretty amazing.  I got some vicarious pleasure in his body, actually (the fingernail polish, not so much).

Then there was the completely unexpected Supreme Court decision on Obamacare -- which delighted me more than I can possibly say. Of course, Justice Thomas asked no questions -- the last time he spoke up spontaneously during an exchange among the justices and lawyers was in February 2006. The "mini-dissent" written by Clarence Thomas -- a mere two pages tacked onto the official dissenting report, was typically unsubstantial.  Though the court had just ruled that Congress can regulate economic activity, Thomas thinks this gives Congress too much power.  The major shock of this decision was that the entire conservative wing of the court did NOT make a conservative political decision on health care.  Chief Justice John Roberts actually made a judicial ruling -- one that has clearly outraged the Tea Party and conservative wing of the Republican Party.   The official Tea Party page (if you can stand to view it) states:   The Supreme Court just handed The Federal Government the power of limitless expansion to tax you for any reason!  Hard to believe that those good folks who listen to the Tea Party haven't been brain damaged in a previous life . . .

Finally, it seems that science is now trying to prove that dogs have empathy.  USA Today reports that 15 out of 18 mutts approached a crying stranger in a position of submission, offering up sympathy to the distressed person.  It's a great story -- but one that every single dog owner knows.  You cry -- the dog who loves you will come to comfort you.  Gussie is better at the comforting than Luie, who thinks that if he gets you to play with him, you will most certainly feel a lot happier.  Gussie is just content to sit your side and rest his chin on your chest.  Or if you move around a bit, go to the foot of the bed and lick your toes.  You can't cry when your feet are being tickled by the softest tongue in the world.