Saturday, April 30, 2011

Medicare on my Mind.

No matter what work you did, even if you worked for yourself, you probably contributed to Medicare, knowing that in your senior years, when you needed health care the most, the program would guarantee that major hospitalization and surgery bills would be paid off.  You couldn't anticipate how sick or feeble you'd become after a certain age, and even if you owned the farm, and the implements to operate it, you could never know how your health might bankrupt the family business.

Medicare has been around for a long time because people have seen its usefulness and are willing to maintain it. 
The program, however, is becoming costly.
All of our medical expenses are becoming out of control.

Medicare doesn't even cover all the expenses seniors face when their health is poor.
Most seniors purchase additional insurance, Medigap, to cover anything that Medicare doesn't cover.

So, how much of seniors' income is spent on medical expenses?
A big wallop!

Premiums for Medigap and Medicare Part B and D (these are newer parts added in the last few years to expand the coverage of the original Medicare that covered only major medical) and dental coverage, can be as much as half of the Social Security Benefit payments seniors receive.

In other words, medical costs are out of control. And yet, we are still fighting each other on how to deliver medical coverage to people without bankrupting them.

You say we can't afford these benefits?
I say, we can't afford not having these benefits.
We need to figure a way to contain costs and to insure everybody, so that in the richest country in the world people don't die of diseases and poor care.  Our infant mortality is one of the poorest among developed countries. 

How did we let that happen?
Now, we're proposing cutting benefits, or curtailing them for seniors.
Our senior mortality will be the poorest in the world.
Not really what we want is it?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Death doesn't make appointments.

I've become increasingly cautious about little things. I turn off all the burners and the lights when I leave the kitchen; check the refrigerator doors for tight closure; lock the front door; move any items that might block our quick exit in an emergency; make sure our night lights are all functioning, especially the ones that guide us to and from the bathrooms.  Yes, my money can be hijacked; my computer can crash; my tender shoots freeze; my skin wrinkle without moisturizers, but our exit, if required, will be smooth and beautifully executed!

Creepy? Not in my neighborhood. In the morning we saw Joe push the lawnmower in his front yard; by evening, Joe had joined his ancestors.  And Joe was younger than most, and in relative good health.

Less than a year ago a wonderful poet in our Bandon Writers' group died without much fanfare.
Bob Cohen was younger than me! He ended up on the Oregon Coast by way of Chicago, Portland, and many other places.  His voice, his presence, is missed. His words, though, his art, lives on.

Later today, I'll be posting a poem on my other blog,  Notes, tales.  You may want to find his work in libraries and bookstores, and enjoy all that he has written.

Death sends us reminder notices this way.
So, be sure you've done what you intend to do with your life.
Be sure your work is what you want it to be.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The secret lives of dogs.

Meet Walrus, my daughter Pia's dog. She only likes you if you play a guitar. She can smell that in you. If you're not a musician, like her mommy and daddy, forget about it. She'll keep her distance from you or bark at you the whole time.

Walrus has established her own routines around my house. She tells us exactly where she wants to sleep, how she wants to interact, when she wants to spend time outdoors without a leash or a tug, as in this instance in our lakeside fenced garden. 

I don't play any instrument, but I sing, and she follows me around when she  visits, mostly because I'm the cook, and she expects that every time I'm moving, I'm off to the kitchen to cook.  Walrus then will sit attentively for the entire amount of time it takes to whip up a meal.

What a wonderful life and community she has established for herself. She likes and welcomes those who are most like her family; and, she loves and welcomes those who will feed her.

Isn't that how we established our blog community?
Don't we befriend those most like us? Writers befriending writers; ex-educators befriending ex-educators; retirees befriending.....

And we befriend those who can help us with our needs.  If we enjoy cooking and collecting recipes, we sign up to follow cooking blogs.

I bet you can profile a person by the blogs she follows!
You can reconstruct their history.
You can see how she eats and shops.
Why, you can tell if she is a Republican or a Democrat!

Oh my!
There goes my attempt at keeping my identity safe from wiki leaks!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes, we just can't stop ourselves.

Our lake empties here, a small outflow by  Coast Guard Hill, narrow at this point, squeezed by two big lava rocks. To flow out smoothly, this creek has to get really swollen to make the final push to the Ocean.

If this exit is plugged, our lake level rises dramatically, to dangerous levels, causing irreparable harm to nearby houses.  The year after we moved in our present house, the lake reached historical heights and the town resorted to digging out outflows to save the lake. After that, the lake and its vicinities received special funding and the outflow was engineered and built to be self regulating.

This lake used to be a lagoon, draining somewhere else.
Knowing all this did not deter us from purchasing a house here.

How many of us live in such precarious surroundings?
Do you live in a tornado zone?
A flood zone?
A hurricane area?
A volcano?
A forest fire zone?
An earthquake area?

Nature is unstoppable. It's only a matter of time, or special circumstances.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holidays and Sundays.

Easter: New outfits, parades, egg hunts, contests, foods, family gatherings, history.

Everything changes when you retire and you move away from all these things.
You establish your own rhythm, your own rituals, your own celebrations. 

So, here is a preview of the way Hubby and I will celebrate Easter:


1. We might eat ham, boiled, with vegetables. For dessert, French toast fingers.
2. We might walk to the beach, collect agates, notice how the dunes have changed.
3. We'll call our children, starting on our own phone, then passing one to the other.
4. We could drive up to Coos, sixty miles away, to see the latest flick.
5. Or, something else entirely, like a trip to the doctor, a day in bed with back pains.

A day just like any other!

And we might reminisce, about egg hunts, parties, church visits, family get together where I cooked for hours and hours and everyone spent the entire day talking about their jobs, their purchases, their goals, etc........

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day 2011.

Have Fun.                                     
Act safely.

Respect OUR beautiful EARTH.


i'm spending time in the garden.what about you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What? Women Issues again?

Between Barbie dolls and horse rides, girls think a lot about their future. A lot.  Girls dream all sorts of dreams, to run companies, to become Speaker of the House, CEO's of International corporations, and even President of this United States.

How is it then that their health and welfare gets to be so controversial now and then?
Whenever human reproduction issues come about, mainly women's health issues, family planning, and other issues involving girls health and future, we begin to re frame these arguments and go back to the different ways we were brought up.

This is not the time to get into a religious war.

By the time your girl is twelve, you better have a set of guidelines to help her grow strong, healthy and unscathed.  Being a girl should not be an "issue".

Education is our first target.  Through education, both boys and girls  should receive basic information of how their bodies are changing, and the choices they will face with their increasing sexualities.
Pure and simple facts.
Parents ought to be the first educators, by the way.

Many poor women do not get health care through doctors and family physicians.  Most of them rely on Family Planning Clinics for information and check-ups.  Making these institutions disappear or lose their funding is denying poor women basic health care at a most precarious age, I might add.

You say the government shouldn't interfere with private issues?
 I say the government is providing a health alternative for those people who need it the most.
 It is voluntary.
 It is not associated with any churches or religious tenets. 
It is a health delivery system.

If you have never visited these places, drop in and see.
You'll be surprised on how they benefit the health and welfare of a lot of women.
You'd be happy to know that your tax dollars are preventing diseases, curing ailments and providing education and information to assist women plan a healthy and vibrant family.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Facebook Update

This is my Facebook Picture.
It is the most recent picture of me, taken by my daughter in law at the Huntington Chinese Gardens in San Marino, California, last month.  My husband and grandchild are in the background.  If anyone visited me on Facebook, they'd get this look, my usual attire, my hairdo and eyeglasses I still sport and might even recognize hubby back there.  He hasn't changed at all!

I could upgrade my picture, show a younger me, one more recognizable by those friends I have not seen in more than a decade. But then, whom am I kidding? I don't want anyone to think I had work done on my already perfect body. Yeah!

Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with a couple of people from my last work place, and even find a new cousin!  Most of all, Facebook lets me know what others are doing.

When my son became engaged, he called me from Philadelphia and said:
"Mom, I wanted you to know before we post our announcement on Facebook!"
"Thanks, son. I appreciate that!"

And there is the rub! Sometimes, when we read something on Facebook that  should private and privileged among family members, it rubs us the wrong way.

What? The world knows about this, and I'm the last one to read about it?

I know people now that post daily!
I know people that never post.
I know people who never shared anything familiar before, suddenly posting intimate pictures and events all over every body's walls.

Yeah, it's back at Young Scholar High!  Only now it's a game everyone can play.

I've stopped following people on Blogger because I know what they write through Facebook!
I'm beginning to see the attraction.
I'm regretting the time it takes.
I'm re-assessing the benefits of it all.

Oh well!
People said the same thing about Blogger.  And before that, about  email. Before that, about cell phones. And before that, about every new tool and invention to ease communication. 

My goodness!
In my younger years, a continent away, we walked out of our houses at sunset to hear the town crier beat his drum and announce the births, the deaths, the weddings, the circus coming to town.

The excitement is the same.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easing in and Easing Out, a Solution to improve the workforce.

I catch myself starting conversations with this phrase, a nostalgic nod to the profession I loved. "I used to be a teacher, a school administrator..." 

Nowadays, nobody asks me what I do, or did for a living. Nobody cares to know that.
Yet, that's who I am, always the teacher, observing and studying, then translating the results into bite=sized=pieces to be presented to someone, some group. I taught grades 6-14, upper elementary to junior college.  I'm an expert without a platform.

As seniors, we are judged by the clubs and volunteer activities we are involved in.  In our town, there are quilt groups, garden clubs, yoga and dancing groups, school tutors, reading groups, walking groups, bird watchers, trail blazers, environmentalists, council members, board members, canoers and kayakers, fisher people, surfers, painters, writers, jewelry makers, potters, metal-sculptors, gamblers and church members.

None of these activities require a degree or a certificate, or a recommendation. In some cases, you run for office and let the community know you want their support. Otherwise, come in, sit down, learn with everyone else. What you did in your previous life doesn't matter at all. Go on, join up, pay your dues and swing-to-maloo, or whatever tune the group moves to.

I miss not contributing to my field of studies. I miss young people, their energy, their needy situations that allowed me to help out. I miss solving problems, planning, collaborating to achieve a mutual goal. What I contribute in my elected position as a school board member is infinitesimally smaller than anything I ever did on a daily basis.

I should be happy not to have so many responsibilities.  Not at all!

All seniors I know, would rather be contributing members of society. Their health, their energy and attention span levels, however, are not what they used to be.  Part time employment, project that would take a few weeks, a few months, paced differently, these would be great ways to employ seniors.

Retirement for most people is a forced choice.

If you ask us, we'll tell you about our work, we'll show you.
But, we are not being asked.  All that we could pass on as mentors, all those resources are wasted away.

We need a smoother way to start working, and a smoother way to stop working. In our early years, we need time to learn incrementally, and apply few lessons at a time, with the help of a mentor until we can handle a full time load on our own. 

In our late years, we can mentor young people, help them see the elements in a work day that can be leveraged carefully to help all other elements work well.  Our time with youth would help us ease out of full time work, and would help the corporation utilize the skills we have for a few more years.

There should be a decade of easing in and one of easing out.
Work should be geared to our life needs; not, the other way around. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I should have done more of...

All of a sudden, you are old. Oh, you saw it coming, but you thought you could beat it by sheer will, or luck.  You saw the years and decades accumulate and you kept hoping your luck would change soon.

Yes, you kept hoping the kids would graduate, get a job, settle down.
You kept hoping your figure would get back to the before stage.
You kept hoping your money, or whatever money you could put aside, kept growing and growing.

You turned the page one day and events got away from you. 

The last time I visited this couple, my little brother Luigi and his lovely wife, was ten years ago. He's now as old as I was then. My children are ten years older; my grandchild is a teen now, as tall as I am.

I miss him. I miss my other brother and his wife and children. I miss everyone I left behind. I should have kept in touch with all of them.
 I should have.

I always wanted to become skilled in music,  write a novel. I put off taking classes, joining groups. It took time I didn't have, energy I couldn't spare.  It took a level of passion I could only spend on my work.

Now  that my work is done, and my children are all grown and settled, the things I wanted to learn are not easy to learn at this stage.
The family I left behind is not easily reunited at this stage.
 I have the time, but do not have energy.
I cannot stir up the passion it takes to finish any task well.

All I can do is share this with you. There may not be any more energy or resources available to you in the future. Your health, your finances, your circumstances may not be there for you. 

Live as well as you can, right now. Live fully and have no regrets.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


 (Picture from the web-some interior decorator blog. I have  forgotten its provenance, but have loved it and kept in my dream file. Please forgive me for not knowing to whom this belongs!)

In interior places as in this lavatory, we peek at the outdoor world, the ever-changing environment that surrounds us and demands our attention now and then.  We are entities to ourselves, our needs primary and basic, our survival high on our list. We forget that we are part of a larger environment.

I'm thinking of how we shut ourselves from the world in our dream houses. We forget hunger, cold, extreme heat, thirst, wind. We see the world trough windows we create, and we manage, sliding our drapes over a bad view, turning our heaters on cold days.  We don't know hunger any more, and we don't understand anyone who might be hungry.

Surrounded by features we install, mirrors to show off our best features, we are in caves all day long, year in and year out.

It's too easy to become islands.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Road Alerts!

With all the talks about Shutting Down the Government I thought we all need to stop and look around, look at the road we're on, the path we've been on, the views waiting for us, the people who are depended on us at the end of the road.

We are not alone on any path. We may associate ourselves with this caravan or that circus, but in the end, after this road trip, we are all returning home to care for our loved ones.  We are meant to compromise, to reach consensus, to stop and follow signs  we didn't construct, we didn't want, we didn't support.  Those signs are there to tell us one thing only:

There are things beyond and ahead of you, all around you, that you are part of, that are important for your future safety, that are part of a bigger world that doesn't think your present needs are important right now.  Even if you have an emergency, have promised someone you'd get home at a certain time, have sworn on your life never to be late again.

Accept that certain things will need to happen for things to go well.

Keeping the government funded and working is one of those things.

These people who are keeping us safe on the road will not work after the government shuts down. Nobody will tell you that the road is dangerous; nobody will identify problems in advance.
Just thinking out loud, on US101.
Happy Traveling on your Easter Break.   

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where have all the fishermen gone?

Like most farming, fishing is no longer a family business, passed down father to sons and daughters, with  boats owned by the same families generation after generation. 
Most fishing is done on a big scale. Big ships troll the oceans  and collect thousands and thousands of seafood, sort it, ice it and store it until the cargo is filled to the brim and the ships can return to canneries and sorting pavilions. 

The salmon in your supermarket may have come from Alaska, and its color may not be anything more than the color of pellets fed the young in a hatchery before the salmon was released for its trip to the ocean to fatten up.

A great many species are becoming exstinct, and their fishing is prohibited in most countries.

Next time you're in the supermarket, check the labels carefully, train yourself to look for sustainable seafood.  The Monterrey Aquarium Seafood Watch  lists fish that are sustainable.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


All I did was  sign up  to participate in the A-Z challenge.
A simple task, write every day in April starting with A.
Add a link to others.

Attach and Display the logo.
Attract new followers.
Ah, it seemed so easy.

Here I am,  April 2nd, in trouble, late, having totally forgotten about the sign up.
I do have a great announcement?

See the couple above with the water dog?
Brian, my youngest, and Janet, have  become engaged!
No date set yet.
The picture is from six months ago at  our place.
Announcing this union gives me great pleasure.
The two of them will have a great future together.

Apologizing about my tardiness and  bowing out of the competition is all I can do right now. 
I'm sure you can forgive me.