Computers and health care

Used to be when you bought a pc (not so familiar with MACs) you could tell them what you wanted on it: RAM, software, firewalls, security programs, whatever. Basically build it yourself. Now it seems you take what you get when you buy it, anything else is almost prohibitively expensive. Oh, you can still build on what you initially buy, but additional memory boards, RAM– have to be added.

Not so with health coverage. Nowadays with this so-called obamacare whether you are male or female, or even not a woman of child-bearing age you have obstetric and gynecologic coverage. One size fits all, except we are not all one-sized. We are not all men, or women. Each of us ought to be able to customize our coverage according to our age, specific health needs, families, etc. But we can’t.

When that oversized gavel resoundingly slammed down on the historic massive podium in the venerable senate room the die was cast. I sat down with my Blue Cross rep and asked what I needed to do to not ever have to come under this non-coverage. He told me up until February 2010 I could do whatever I wanted to change or customize my plan. After that if I made any change to it I would no longer qualify under a grandfathered plan. I would no longer have access to the medical group to whom I have gone since I was 13 years old, as well as my immediate family, no longer qualify for the same coverage which accommodates my meager medical needs (I am in excellent health for a person my age) or hospitalization, should I ever need it. So I have not changed anything. I do not fall under the new health programs. My premiums have gone up more than usual but nothing like anyone who does fall under the new coverages. I am grateful. I don’t need it much but it’s good to have if I ever do.

I did have a conversation with a relatively young doctor not long ago about this monstrous encumbrance. He did not seem overly concerned. He seems to think whenever the next administration is rolled in things will change again indicating that every administration tweaks its own healthcare plans. That this, too, shall pass.

I hope he’s right.

Birthdays and Car Wrecks

My son is 35 today. He is also in San Antonio at an electronic gaming conference where his company is launching the game he sweat blood over the past year and a half creating. So I told him to just know this is happening on his birthday because it’s his party. He laughed. But I am very proud of him. For a creative person he has none of the arrogant swagger people who can actually do something with their creativity are. He gets his teeth into a project and won’t turn loose until it’s finished. Though it is usually finished long before the company says it is with their final tweaks and adjustments. But he is patient. Something I know was the result of long hours of prayer and not a genetic trait inheritance.

So the car wreck. I had backed out of my driveway, put the car in drive and was transferring my foot from the brake to the gas pedal when >* BAM *< my across the street neighbor slammed her suv into my micro-Honda Civic. Lily gingerly rose from that side of the backseat and daintily moved to the other side. We were just on the way to the park for a nice afternoon walk.

I got out of the car and walked over to my neighbor’s car window. She asked me what do we do? I suggested we go through the insurance information, did she want to call police, I did not think it necessary. She took complete responsibility,  said to just let her know what it cost and we parted ways. It was both our fault, really, so I will split the cost in the end. Or pay for it myself. Whatever. It looks like one of those dents where some clever mechanic can take a big suction cup and pull the dent out. The quotes I have gotten so far start at $300. I am still looking for the suction-cup-mechanic guy.

It was a busy week. My house is under contract, the rest of the furniture has been delivered and my realtor came to visit to wish me well in my new home. In between I managed a Bible study, book luncheon and training at an animal sanctuary.

The highlights were two walks on two different beaches, same ocean. My very old and dear friend.

Maybe the coming week will be calmer.

Whelk

What?? But if I had written “conch” you’d know what I was referring to more than a whelk. These are both sea snails, gastropods, born with tiny shells that grow with the animal.

I found one this morning.

A whelk, not a conch. Whelk can be found on the entire eastern seaboard. Conch only in tropical water. Conch are those shells you see more in decorative places. That lovely shiny pink inner shell. Whelk are usually white or tan and smaller. They can have pointed or knobby crowns. They can be thin or wide. The animal, like the conch, can also be eaten.

The first time I ate a snail was on a trip to New York with my dad. He commuted every week there from our home in NC so we didn’t see him much. To compensate for this he’d take me for a few days over Christmas break and we’d eat roasted chestnuts, watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center, see the Nutcracker ballet. Once we ate snails. He did not even call them escargot and I did not want to eat them, same as I did not want to eat a raw oyster, not at first. But true to responding to my dad, always up for a challenge I did eat it and was pleasantly surprised since it was overwhelmed with lots of butter and a light undertone of garlic. Not so much the oyster. It was slimy, cold, and only tinged with a squeeze of lemon and drop or two of tabasco.

So when something finds its way into the animal’s shell and eats the snail the shell is left. Empty, it eventually is carried by the tide and washes up on shore where some lucky beach-comber like me comes across it. These sea shells are graceful. They look like alabaster and the ocean wears them smooth. I always have a choice whether to pick it up or leave it where I found it. Today I chose to keep it. My son’s birthday is a week from now.

I hope he enjoys it.

House-selling

This is a great market, some say it is a seller’s market. People are buying again, even building. In my case I am having a lot of bargain hunters look at my house. I am becoming slightly crabby over this.

Don’t get me wrong, this house is in a wonderful neighborhood, it is much in demand especially with young people, new parents, couples. But I do not like to think I lived in a starter home, much as I did not want to know I was a starter wife, which it turned out, I was. Bummer, well, could have been bummer if my ex-husband and I had really been what I thought- inseparably made for each other, which after a year or two I realized we clearly were not.

But this house. Ok, so since my ownership in 2009 I did give it a new 30-year architectural-style roof, tore out the (original-from 1992!) carpet and put in all hardwood -red oak- floors except the 2 guest beds which I replaced with carpet, new water heater, air conditioner compressor, new insulated, low-e (whatever that is) windows, tiled floors in baths, replaced the garbage disposer and garage door motor, crawl space waterproofing and more. All of which was done within the past 4-5 years. The snag appears to be the kitchen. I did not follow this rage going on and redo my kitchen. Why should I? Everything still works fine! And the countertops, though original are still pristine. I somewhat do regret not replacing these and realize if I had at least replaced those countertops the kitchen would appear newer but I do not like to deceive. And what if I chose something nobody but me liked?

The issue with passing on offers is the unknown– will there be any more? If there are will they be better than the last? No house wants to be the last one standing at the dance. The listing has only been live for 15 days and the agency/agent is very good- Sotheby’s, so the exposure this house is getting is local, national and international and it is beautifully (and accurately) portrayed. And I have told my agent that I need for her to let me know if she thinks I am being unreasonable. She has said she thinks I am not being unreasonable.

So far that is.

So even though I have no sentimental or emotional attachment to this house I do want its sales price to be worthy of it while at the same time being fair.

Fair to one I have found is a steal, or highway robbery, to another.

Romans 12:12, Galatians 5:22

Reward

Some people believe that when they have achieved a goal or accomplished a thing it is important to pat self on the head with a reward of some kind… a tasty dinner at a nice(r) restaurant, a new item of clothing, purse, some small extravagance that normally one would pass by.

In light of having unpacked, stored and/or disposed of 63-odd packing boxes of assorted sizes and probably around 7 miles of unrolled bubble wrap; cleared, disbursed or thrown out piles of clutter and I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it things; hanging as many pictures as told me where they might prefer to be displayed (with many left to go), I treated my beloved Lily and myself to a pink and gold glow of a sunrise at the beach this morning. It was the coldest morning (so far) this year, and as we were on the return lap having gone as far up the beach as we would I noticed someone’s bare footprints in the sand, a child’s. It took maybe 10 more yards of walking before my frozen brain determined I too, should be enjoying the sugar-soft sand between my toes. The tide was coming in and Lily does not like those waves coming up to meet her so I zig-zagged along, being dragged away whenever a rogue wave threatened to lick her paws. The cold air gripped my ankles as I pulled off my thick woolen socks, but the sand truly felt like cool silk under my rough winter foot soles. Suddenly the ocean waves crashed louder, like summer waves. Not a distant thundering but clearly beckoning me into the surf as on an August afternoon. The water felt like ice shards running over my feet but I rejoiced. The ocean! Bare feet was all it took.

I still have to find places to put these wayward things away. As my brilliant and ever-practical godmother says, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

I believe her. And another goal to reach for another gift of a sunrise.

Anxiety, and a few questions

So this is probably not a word anyone wants assaulting their new year’s peace, promise and hope of new beginnings, fresh starts and better lives.

But what is it about the human mind. I know it isn’t about being undisciplined (or is it?) because some of the most orderly, organized and straight-forward individuals I have ever known worried about something. Small worries or not, it altered their equilibrium to greater or lesser degrees.

We wake in the night, still in a groggy fog, and gradually that thought that woke us crystallizes: did I lock the front door? did I put the quarterly tax payments in the mail last week? the doctor’s appointment, the strange noise under the car hood, the child(ren), still out and it is after 2 a.m.

Is this just our humanness, the nagging worry that shoulders out all other thoughts, the inferno that rages, hissing every dousing attempt at calmness we throw at it? I do not necessarily mean those nay-sayers either, individuals who cannot see anything good but brood on what’s wrong with everything, convinced that they are doing everyone else a favor.

It takes a great deal of strength to rein in these inner harbingers. Some have this ability innately. Wonderful! Others have to work a bit harder at it. Others with friends struggling with psychoses worry about their own worrying.

It’s been said that high intelligence is alarmingly close to insanity. It’s also been said that love and hate, in their extremes, are passion directed for or against someone or something, and that each is reflected in a deep love. I am not a psychiatrist. I do not pretend to understand all of this. I do know that when a pervasive thought, clear or vague begins to surface and is preceded with that aura of doom or gloom I turn to thoughts of grace. These fretful emergings have no true place in my mind. Not unless they are reminders of something I’ve needed to do, in which case they are duly noted, acted upon and subsequently disappear. There are so many persons and things over which I have no control. Just myself, for the most part. I can try to understand these others, and make my own needs and preferences known as well as there being empirical standards that are, regardless of what anyone else may or may not want or think. If they are not met or honored it is time to summon up my faith and move on. Or is it possible, by being part of it, to help it to change? And to what lesser or greater degree a part?

Maybe I’ll just take my Christmas decorations down, even if it isn’t yet 12th night.

Matthew 6:25; 6:33, 34; Luke 10:38-42