Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Workshop Finale

The poetry workshop concludes each year (this was year #11) with a public reading.  Last night was the event.

Our leader is a retired English professor and a respected poet.  She holds the workshop each April at the town library.  In addition to the support and feedback that we get from other group members as part of the workshop, we get a personal consultation with Mary Jane.

At the reading, she must surely feel like a midwife helping each of us give birth to our poems.  I am always grateful to be a small part of this event.

Mary Jane is also a dedicated gardener.  I am linking this vimeo of a garden tour for Linda Reeder.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Sunday SIde

I call this a side dish here merely for the sake of those who feel a meal is not complete unless there is some kind of meat on the plate. I ate this with a small salad and called it

dinner.

Artichoke Heart Rosti
 (pretend there are those two dots over the o in rosti because I am too lazy right now to look up yet again how to do that on the computer)

3 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1/2 cup small artichoke hearts, chopped
      (I used plain canned, not marinated)
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T vegetable oil, divided

Thaw potatoes by rinsing them under warm running water.  Drain on paper towels.
Mix potato, artichoke, and parsley in a bowl.
Heat 1 T of oil in a frying pan (one with sloped sides) over medium-high heat. Add potato mixture and press into a flattened circle with a spatula.
Cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
Invert the rosti onto a plate.  Heat remaining oil and slide the rosti back into the pan.  Cook for 6 to 7 minutes more.  Go for nicely browned and crispy on both sides.
Let it rest for 2 minutes before serving.


I had some leftover mashed potato and I added just a bit to this to bind it together a bit more.


P.S. to Ginnie: The Rachael Ray cheesey potatoes were amazingly delicious.
Thank-you!  And get better!!  That's an order and we all say so.

Friday, April 25, 2014

IT'S OFFICIAL

There will be an unexpected winter-like snow storm in the middle of spring.

I have determined this based on years of previous experience.  I had my snow tires taken off today.  That greatly increases the likelihood of snow.  And frankly, it has been cold enough.

It is nice to not have to listen to the click-clack of the studs on bare road though.

I have a 2010 Prius.  It has a key, but you just press the "power" button to start it up.  There is no place to actually put the key in the car--in your pocket or purse is fine as long as it is within a certain range.

When I got to the garage first thing this morning, I could not find the key.  I searched my purse, my pockets, and then all over the car.  Since I drove it there, I knew it had to be somewhere nearby.  I said I was sure it was somewhere in the vehicle so it could be started.  I left for a walk but the mechanic came running after me.  He couldn't start it--I must have the key somewhere on my person.  I had patted my coat pocket several times and had not felt the key, but when I actually put my hand in the pocket, I found it.  Sometimes I can be very ditsy.  Usually early mornings if I have to actually do something like get the car to the garage first thing.

I was reminded of a substitute job I had after I retired from full time teaching.  I had a class that was made up of some kids on the autism spectrum.  I don't even remember what prompted the remark but I said something about having a "blonde moment."  I looked out at several very dubious faces.  "Okay, I guess you are all wondering how I can have a blonde moment when my hair is grey."

I had failed to impress them with my self-deprecating humor, but they were quite astounded by my mind reading abilities.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Random

Do you do Pinterest?  It's a great use for any spare time you may have.  It will suck it all up like a virtual vacuum cleaner and then start to suck in the time designated for the important things in life--like checking your e-mail and catching up with blogging pals--or like going outside and participating in real life.

It's cheap entertainment.  Cheap entertainment can be a good thing.  I mean, it doesn't have to mean  that life is pathetic and sad.  Life is what we make of it, afterall.

This morning I came across a Pin: A list, 10 Random Acts of Kindness for the Christmas Season.  Can you make a list of random acts to perform?  This cracked me up.  I giggled about it all morning long.

I go for cheap entertainment and I am quite easily amused.

Speaking of being amused, I saw/heard this (Jesus Shaves) on Facebook -- not quite the compelling time vacuum as Pinterest, but I laughed until tears were flowing down my face.

Well, laughter has some identified health benefits.  So does dark chocolate.  I think I will just skip my exercise walk to sit here and watch Youtube videos and eat chocolate.  It's all part of my healthy lifestyle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Explain this to me...

As many of you may know,  I find the concept of insurance distasteful.  I  consider it gambling that something bad is going to happen to me while the insurance company is gambling that it won't.  In either case, it seems like a lose-lose situation for me.  However, even though the concept strikes me as screwed up, I am grateful that I do have insurance.  I will even go out on a limb here and state my opinion is that anyone who thinks this country does not need good universal health care is living in a fantasy world.

I am eligible for Medicare--age will do that for a person.  I have a supplemental plan that includes prescription medication coverage.  I really had no difficulty signing up for any of this a year ago.  Also, because my bike accident involved a motor vehicle, my car insurance paid for medical expenses related to that.  It is easy to be grateful for insurance when I consider that the combined expenses for that little bike accident adventure rang in at over $11,000.  I mean, I did have an MRI, but other than that I walked out of the ER with a band-aid on my eyebrow and an ice bag for my face.

Mike also had Medicare and supplemental insurance that seems to have covered his extensive medical costs from last year.  He had a harder time getting signed up for all that, but, again, I am really, really grateful that he had the coverage.

Here's the difficult part--figuring out who paid what and how much of what was charged actually got paid.  I know that I won a bet here--something bad happened to me.  My prize, a face that looked like an overripe eggplant, but no broken bones or long term effects.  I should be happy with that and just get over it.  The thing is, I really am curious about the hit taken by insurance companies.

I am curious and the reams of paper, boldly labelled THIS IS NOT A BILL, do nothing to enlighten me.  An entire mountain denuded to generate the paper-work:  definitions, instructions, charts, lots of charts.  I don't know who paid what to whom.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MEDICARE: HOW TO CHECK THIS NOTICE

Do you recognize the name of each doctor or provider?  
(No.  I had less than five minutes of face time with two female doctors.  I recognize their names.  A doctor interpreted my MRI, I am sure.  Dr. XXX: Emergency department visit, moderately severe problem.  Have no idea who that was or what he did.  Host the ER visit?)

Did you get the services listed?
(Yes.  I got the visit, the MRI, the band-aid and two ice packs.  A nurse walked me around before discharge.  All those things had medical terms attached and the application of the band-aid was a "procedure."  So were the ice bags, although I was handed those and told to hold them where it hurt most, which seemed casual for a "procedure.")

If you paid the bill, did you pay the right amount?
(I don't know.  I paid a $147 deductible, but then the hospital sent it back to me.)  

The paperwork from my supplemental plan is equally obtuse, but it comes in fewer sheets of paper.  The amount charged, the amount allowed under Medicare ("generally 80%" but sure seems a lot less to me), the amount Medicare actually paid (less than allowed amount), the amount we paid, and the amount "you saved."

My car insurance (Horace Mann, a company and agents I really like in spite of it being about the dreaded insurance thing) just sent me a letter stating they paid $5000.  At least I understood that.

I suspect that because the car insurance paid that amount, the hospital actually got paid more than they would have from Medicare and my supplemental insurance, but I don't really know.  It is all smoke and mirrors to me.

And my big question is why insurance can look at a charge of $217, say our approved limit is $63.15, we are actually going to pay $0.00.   What happens to those who don't have any insurance?  They're stuck with paying the full $217?  I can't imagine John Q. Public gets away with saying, "Oh that amount doesn't work for me.  Here's 25 bucks."

Really.  I won the gamble and got a swollen, purple face.  They lost the gamble and got to inform me that I had saved $5000, like they should be my heroes.
Phooey!

And yet I have to feel grateful.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

To all those who celebrate Easter, my wishes for a happy one!

 These are the results of time with the grandchildren--bunnies, chicks, eggs, and bird nest cookies.  I did not have the noodles you are supposed to use, but Dane suggested pretzel sticks would work just as well and taste good too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Springtime in Vermont


The view out my back door this morning, April 16.  At least the sun in out.  It won't last.  Hard to believe it was up to 80 degrees on Monday though.  Between the mountain snow melt in the warm temperatures and the heavy rains yesterday, there will be flooding down hill of us for sure.

 I opened up some windows on Monday.  The winds that were ushering in the cold front also blew in a great deal of pollen.  I sneezed about twenty times in a row before I thought to close the windows again.  At least all the rain and snow
settled the pollen for a bit.

Spring means spring cleaning. I emptied out my closet and gave it a scrub.



I did some purging, although not enough.  Anyway, a trip to the Salvation Army is in my future.

We did some baking this past weekend.  My loaf of bread is on the left and my son's loaf of bread is on the right.  I follow a recipe and he throws ingredients together from memory.  I bake bread once or twice in any given year.  He bakes a loaf of bread every Sunday, the way some people go to church.


Drat!  I can no longer blame my oven.  Practice effect?  My mother made beautiful bread, but if the skill is genetic it's the type that skips a generation.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Cards

I have missed making cards over the winter.
 Since I airlines give a weight limit, I did not drag supplies to Florida.  So it was fun to get together for a playdate with my card making friends.  The idea for the sea gull card was stolen from Donna.

This is my creation,

as is this.

I made the last card the next day.  I used stamps and gelatos for the water color effect.  Gelatos are a new toy for me.  They were great fun to use and I want to do more experimenting with them.

I did the cards, I went to a poetry reading, I went to a long restorative yogi/Reiki class which also featured aroma therapy.  It was a full weekend.  Today I have library volunteer time and the poetry workshop tonight.  Tomorrow I am going with friends to a story reading at the Renegade Writers in Burlington.  Then I am having a visit from the grand kids.  I needed the restorative yoga because I feel so pressed for time!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring

There is a reason we call it mud season.

The middle of the road is muddy,

but the thawing releases its own sweet scent.

the sun is shining & warm,

the sky is blue,

a rushing stream washes the air.

I am grateful for this day.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Do I Really Need a TV?

I had turned my television on briefly on Monday night after coming home from the poetry workshop at the library.  I did not see anything that I wanted to watch so I turned it off and read until bedtime.

Tuesday rolled around and I had a meeting with my regular writing group.  I switched on the TV set before I headed off to the library once again to see if I could catch some of the news.

This was all I could see.

I called Comcast's automated service and pressed "1" for a refresh--"all that is usually needed" according to the non-person on the other end of the line.  When I got back, the same screen.  I called Comcast again and eventually got connected to a live person who assured me this was "a common problem that I can help you with right now."
  • Press the cable button, then the power button.
  • Try that again.
  • Again.
  • Read the cable box serial number to me.
  • Find the input button on the TV remote.  Press that.
  • Press that again.
  • Unplug the cable box for ten seconds.
  • Wait for me to resend the signal.
  • Press the cable button, then the power.
  • Is the box plugged in?
  • Is the cord connected correctly?
  • Press the input button on the TV remote.
Repeat.  Repeat. Repeat.  She told me that I would need to go to Comcast and switch out the cable box.

My son took me out for lunch on Wednesday.  After that I went to Comcast and swapped the cable box for a brand new one.  I went home and set it up then called the activation number, waited for things to load, turned on the television, and:

I called the number on the activation sheet and got an automated service again. "I see you have a new cable box.  Are you having trouble getting a picture?" Yes.  "I will resend the signal.  If you do not have a picture in five minutes call this number again.  No picture, call again.  Call three got me transferred to a live person.  The first thing I said was that I needed to schedule a service call, but noo-oo-o:


  • Press the cable button, then the power button.
  • Try that again.
  • Again.
  • Read the cable box serial number to me.
  • Find the input button on the TV remote.  Press that.
  • Press that again.
  • Unplug the cable box for ten seconds.
  • Wait for me to resend the signal.
  • Press the cable button, then the power.
  • Is the box plugged in?
  • Is the cord connected correctly?
  • Press the input button on the TV remote.
  • Repeat all.
"Well, I guess we will have to send a technician."  Right.

As I was going out the door for my new exercise class, Comcast calls to ask if I would do a costumer satisfaction survey.  Sorry, I don't have time, I am already late. (Lucky for you, Comcast!)

Thursday, I took my Prius to the dealer to have the two recall notices that I got over the winter taken care of.  I took the shuttle to the mall and did some shopping while that was being done.  Later in the day, Comcast called.  "We want to resolve this issue remotely."

  • Press the cable button, then the power button.
  • Try that again.
  • Again.
  • Read the cable box serial number to me.
  • Find the input button on the TV remote.  Press that.
  • Press that again.
  • Unplug the cable box for ten seconds.
  • Wait for me to resend the signal.
  • Press the cable button, then the power.
  • Is the box plugged in?
  • Is the cord connected correctly?
  • Press the input button on the TV remote.
  • Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And Repeat.
The voice on the other end of the line was getting quite cranky.  Look, I am not making this up.  I have unplugged and plugged, pressed buttons, checked and rechecked all the connections, nothing changes.  Big sigh,  "Well, we are going to have to send a technician."

I hate to be like this, but is the entire country on India going to be docked a days pay because my television continues to say NO SIGNAL?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mud Season Walk

Most Vermonters are celebrating spring, otherwise known as mud season.  People are happy to see the slush and mud because it means the temperatures have finally gotten above the freezing mark.  Tiny shoots promising crocus blooms and even day lilies can be seen huddled along sunny walls.   The ducks and geese up the road are happily splashing in the melting skating rinks that have covered so many lawns.  Robins are hopping around, poking through the mole hills and mouse trails that have wrecked those lawns not covered in water.

Personally, I have not been able to get warm since last Wednesday morning.  Here I am, ready to go out for my exercise walk:


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Trip Home

I tried my hardest to stay in Florida:

*On the drive to Sarasota, my neighbor and I were so deep in conversation that we completely blew by the airport.  We got turned around and managed to find the airport right there by the side of the road where "you can't miss it."

* I went check in but I only one boarding pass spit out.  A note saying my reservation on the second plan could not be found.   I had to get in line for the counter for the transfer in JFK.  It got straightened out.

*I glanced at my boarding pass and headed up to wait at gate 6.  I sat there for a while when it occurred to me that there should be a plane at the end of the gate (there was not) and that there should be more potential passengers than just me (there were not).  I checked my boarding pass again.  Gate B9, seat 6C.  The plane had just started boarding when I got to the right gate.

*The rest of the trip was uneventful.  Obviously, I was meant to get back to Vermont.

I wonder if one feels anxiety in the heavenly spirit realms because I could feel Mike's distress at my la-la-la approach to timing and planning.  Seriously, I have experienced it many times in the past. I know the feeling well.

from this
and this...

to this


and this.

Sigh.

At least it is melting, but I don't think I will have my studded snow tires taken off right away.  Although...I can see several robins hopping around in the back yard so it must be spring.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Milestone

Oops!  I almost missed it!  I have rolled over into the four digits.  My last post was number 1000.

I don't even remember what I was thinking that prompted me to start a blog in the first place.  Whatever the reason, I was not alone.  Eventually, I found myself in a whole community--a diverse and enriching community, for such is the power of words.

Like the kindergarteners I saw a couple of months ago, I plan to wear a crown. They were celebrating day 100 of school life.  Post 1000 of stuff and fluff on Confessions of a Grandma needs a crown!

So thanks to the readers and writers out there--near and far.  Thanks to my children, my beloved husband, and friends who give me stuff to natter on about, and special thanks to my grand children who are the reason I can call myself a grandma.