Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year





Just taking a moment to wish you all a very happy New Year.  I am really missing my computer, but am remaining patient.  This tablet is nice, but not for blogging.  It is super slow and hard to maneuver. ..Although that very well may be my inability to grasp this new technology.  But, the most frustrating part of it is that Chrome freezes and Firefox crashes. 

Tomorrow is a super new moon and there will be a second one on January 30th.  Looks like we are in for a very special year.  I have so much I would like to say about it,  but right about now I am taking a chance. 

So, with that being said, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy and healthy New Year.
 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Roundup

Friday has arrived. It has been a very busy week, I really need some down time. Christmas with my family was wonderful, and I could not ask for more. I now have that letdown feeling that I go through those first few days after the holiday. It  happens every year. My guess is that after putting so much into it, it seems to pass by so quickly that one hardly has time to enjoy it.

Unfortunately despite all my hard work the other day, I could not save my computer. It will no longer turn on and is past the saving stage. No word when I will be able to get a new one. This is not really helping my mood any.  Bah humbug.

So I am doing my best to compose this on my tablet, but it is far from easy. I am still learning so please bear with me. These new gadgets are so complicated, and I don't pick up on things the way I used to. This takes me so long I may not be able to post everyday.


Some holiday cookies that I baked.


Hubby's shrimp has become a holiday tradition.


Just some cheeses and pepperoni.


Miss  Minga's gifts under the tree. Boy she sure did gobble the shrimp dish.


No chocolate Yule this year. Instead we had the above ice cream log. Boy was it yummy.

Well, I sure wasn't my long winded self today, what I guess it wasn't so bad for the first time. At least I learned how to do the pictures. Maybe in time I will learn how to make it look pretty.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day After

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things—not the great occasions—give off the greatest glow of happiness.

Bob Hope


Wow, how quickly Christmas 'present' becomes Christmas 'past', but I am not complaining.  I had a really nice time this year. On Christmas Eve we all gathered around the tree and ate all our little hearts desired.  No big, elaborate meal.  We munched on cold cuts, cheese, crackers, and other goodies whenever we felt hungry. My youngest hates to shop so he gave us all a gift card.  Now I can get myself that new purse that I need.  My eldest enjoys gifting and always picks out the nicest tops.  Hubby surprised me by buying me  a Tablet.  He saw how much I enjoyed my Smartphone, but also noticed the struggle I was having because the print was kind of small for someone who doesn't see as well as they used to.  

And none to soon, I may add.  My computer died completely on me.  Just wouldn't work.  I figured I had nothing to lose since I'd already lost everything, so I pressed the restore button, and here I am.  My computer is working as if my hubby had just brought it home.  For how long, I don't know.  It is quite old.  I did lose my Legacy program, but thankfully, have everything saved on my Ancestry tree. My only concern was the fact that I'd lost my Norton, but with the help of Andrew, a young man and computer whiz I follow here in Blogland, I was able to upgrade to Windows 8 and install Microsoft Essentials, a great, free antivirus.  

The following are some photos taken in Dyker Heights, a very rich area in Brooklyn.  Here you will find million dollar mansions.  And every year, people come from miles around to see the decorations. Cars actually line up just to drive down the block.  Maybe it is me, but this year, I find the decorations a wee bit gawdy.  This year they went over the top.


G




Hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas



Every time a hand reaches out
To help another....that is Christmas
Every time someone puts anger aside
And strives for understanding
That is Christmas

Every time people forget their differences
And realize their love for each other
That is Christmas
May this Christmas bring us
Closer to the spirit of human understanding
Closer to the blessing of peace! 


Holiday wishes to you and yours. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve




Lots of little last minute things to do today, but at least I don't have to leave the house. Bought all my cold cuts yesterday. Have to cut up my cheeses, fix the cold cut tray, and prepare the potato salad. Later, I'll stick the wings in the oven and cook hubby's shrimp.  Haven't found my tree skirt, so I guess and old sheet will have to do. That's okay with me today, though.  Not going to stress over something so insignificant. Life is too short. And, I am hoping on a nap.  (Good luck) Miss Minga really hates me to nap during the day. Usually it is a matter of dozing in my chair. 

So, as I begin my day, I would like to leave you all with the following beautiful poem by one of my favorite poets.  

Oh, hush thee, little Dear-my-Soul,
The evening shades are falling, --
Hush thee, my dear, dost thou not hear
The voice of the Master calling?

Deep lies the snow upon the earth,
But all the sky is ringing
With joyous song, and all night long
The stars shall dance, with singing.

Oh, hush thee, little Dear-my-Soul,
And close thine eyes in dreaming,
And angels fair shall lead thee where
The singing stars are beaming.

A shepherd calls his little lambs,
And he longeth to caress them;
He bids them rest upon his breast,
That his tender love may bless them.

So, hush thee, little Dear-my-Soul,
Whilst evening shades are falling,
And above the song of the heavenly throng
Thou shalt hear the Master calling.

Eugene Field

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday This and That.

For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas.  Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home. 

 W.J. Ronald Tucker


Wow, I can't believe it is already the Monday before Christmas.  Two days to go.  Am I ready?  No, but I will be.  The gifts are wrapped and ready to go under the tree...once I find my tree skirt...and I had thought I was so organized last year when I put things away.  There aren't as many gifts as in Christmas past, and that is okay because Christmas is not really about how many gifts one gives or receives. It is the season of love, and many of us forget that there are various ways to show love that do not necessarily mean spending cash.  Time is one of them. There is nothing better than spending quality time with family.

Over the weekend I thought long and hard about how it was for me when I was growing up, how my parents treated me... especially how they were never able to find time for me...and tried to make up for it by buying my love...especially at holiday time.   Christmas and birthdays were especially full of gifts. The only thing lacking was the gift I needed the most....love and the feeling that I was wanted. 

This Winter Solstice was an especially quiet one for me. With the temperature way up, it felt more like Spring than the first day of Winter.  No traditional Solstice dinner either.  We had pork chops with rice and beans, candied carrots, and homemade applesauce.  I'd planned on a walk in the evening, but by the time I was finished with my Sofrito, my back hurt too badly so I just lit a few candles and spent some time in quiet contemplation. I just like to close my eyes and allow my mind to wander over the images of my ancestors  to capture a feeling of what the Solstice was like for them.

For those who don't know,  Sofrito  is a sauce used as a base for cooking.  I make mine with... 

red, green, orange, and yellow peppers, 
garlic (lots of it), 
one red onion, 
one large sweet white onion,
 Goya Sazon with Coriander and Annatto

...Some people also add Cilantro, but I like to add that separately as it has quite a distinct flavor, I like a variety in flavor when I cook.  I take everything above and chop, then I put it in the blender.  Afterwards, I put it in containers, keep one out, and freeze the rest until needed.  This saves me from my daily chopping of onion and pepper.

As a family, we celebrate on Christmas Eve. Nothing elaborate.  For hubby I make a traditional shrimp dish and for me and the boys...buffalo wings.  Then, I usually have some homemade potato salad (trying a new recipe this year), cold cuts, pickles, Italian peppers, and choices of rolls or bread. Of course, all evening we munch on little appetizers...cheese, crackers, pepperoni, chips and dip, etc.  Then, afterwards there is candy, cookies, and a traditional Yule Log cake at midnight. 

Christmas day it is just me and hubby for our traditional Dominican Christmas feast...pernil, gondulas and rice, okra for him, and for me, probably some fresh brocolli.  This year I am thinking of doing something different.  I am hoping to attend Church on Christmas morn. 

Well, it's time to get a move on.  Wishing you a great beginning to the week.

 As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.  

Eric Sevareid



Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Roundup

The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.

Gary Zukav


Hard to believe, isn't it?  Already the last weekend before Christmas.  And I've much running around to do today.  Have to go to the bank and get hubby's gift. He is definitely the man who has everything, and as you all no, he is a hoarder, so the less I bring into the house, the better.  For years now I have always given him money which he uses to winterize his car.  This year I did also purchase a book for him. The book is called "History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time" by Brad Meltzer.  The author was being interviewed on the morning news, and I just knew I had to get this book for hubby.  He loves conspiracy theories and can ramble on for an hour on the same subject.  I sure hope this book doesn't spur him on.
Aren't these some of the ugliest looking Christmas trees you have ever seen?  They are selling these all over in my neighborhood, especially the one on the end where the leaves fall into circles.  I can't believe people actually buy and use these things.

We had the annual Christmas party at the Center yesterday.  The meal was fantastic, but I know it was far more sodium than I should have had.  We began with orange juice and fruit salad.  Then for the main course we had 2 cheese manicotti,  a meatball, and a tossed salad.  For dessert they gave us some type of cream filled Italian pastry.  What a feast for a dollar, huh?  The party itself was kind of blah, and I left fairly soon after they started with the music and dancing. It was the same music that they play over and over again at every other party.

So, tomorrow is the Winter Solstice/Yule, the shortest day of the year, but it sure as heck doesn't feel like it.  In the low 60's tomorrow and the upper 60's on Sunday.  I've no idea how I am going to celebrate yet.  With everything that is going on, I've not had much time to think about it.  But, I know I will come up with something even if it is to just to cook a special meal, light some candles, and spend some time in quiet reflection. 


Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and a Blessed Yule.

On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
Waiting all its life, snow says, Let me cover you.
Laura Lush From:   The First Day of Winter.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday Ramble

 He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.... In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. 

John Burroughs, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866


Wasn't really planning to go to the Center yesterday because it was pretty darned icy out there.  Whatever melted had turned to ice, especially those sidewalks that hadn't been shoveled.  It's the law for people to shovel their walks, but the city really doesn't act on it.  I was especially surprised that the sidewalk in front of the Center was slushy and slippery.  After all, it's a senior center, and they didn't even put salt down. 

At the last minute I decided to go because next week is a very short week.  Hard to believe it will be Christmas.  And, this will be our last women's group until after the holidays, and I do enjoy it.  It was especially interesting yesterday.  We started off talking about anxiety and ways to handle it without resorting to medication, then went on to sleep and dreams...one of my favorite topics.  Before it  was over I found myself educating members on the benefits of paying attention to our dreams  to remember dreams and offering tips on how to remember them.

Why, the group even delved into the paranormal, and it surprised me how many really believed in spirits. One woman from Italy spoke about how she often spends time talking to her ancestors.  Why even the group facilitator spoke of seeing two spirits when she was young.  I shared about my experiences in our old house and how Miss Minga alerts me when something is around.  

The chicken cutlets for lunch were way overcooked, but well seasoned, but I had good company and pleasant conversation which more than made up for it. All in all, I can honestly say, I had a good day and was glad that I pushed myself to go out of the house.  Sometimes our body may say 'no', but our inner voice is saying 'yes'.
 
Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. 

Hugh Macmillan, "Rejuvenescence," The Ministry of Nature, 1871

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It was the Nightmare Before Christmas: 'Part ? of The Nightmare Continues'


God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me. 
Author unknown, variation of an excerpt from "The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Neibuhr


Yesterday it was a lot slipperier than I thought it was.  Well, actually, it wasn't so bad when I left in the morning, but by the time it was time to come home, the sidewalks had become fairly treacherous. The snow was still coming down, most hadn't really shoveled.  You could actually see the ice under the snow.  I had had a few items to pick up at Pathmark, but decided that they can wait.  

So, I met with the social worker yesterday, and she spend almost two hours with me making phone calls and trying to get my Medicare straightened out.  Medicare referred us to Emblem who referred us to Maxim who referred us back to Emblem who referred us back Medicare who referred us to Social Security who referred us back to Medicare who referred us back to Emblem.  Unbelievable, right?  I know if she hadn't written a list of the above down for me, I wouldn't have believed it either. 
And, after that, here is what we discovered:

Thankfully my penalty is NOT going to be $20 a month.  It will be a dollar a month.  I can deal with that, although it is the principal of the matter that makes me want to appeal.  It seems that I was never sent the paperwork explaining in detail that I MUST have Part D in place before October 1st.  Their error.  

But Medicare can't do anything about it.  I can appeal at Maxim. This is an organization that helps Medicare recipients with their cases. But, they informed us that I cannot appeal until after the penalty takes effect in January. Plain ridiculous if you ask me.

Then we discovered that Emblem will send me a coupon book to make my penalty payments.  Medicare will pay Emblem the $104.90, and I am responsible for the dollar.  It turns out that the salesman had not asked if I wanted it to go directly from Medicare to Emblem.  Who knew?  Their mistake.  So now I have to send payment of a dollar once a month.  How much do stamps cost now?  They are sending me a form for me to fill out giving them permission to take the money directly from my Social Security check, but that won't take effect until March...even if I send it in now.  

Have I lost you yet?  I know I'm lost. And I consider myself one of the lucky ones who not only has a social worker to help them, but also that I have the experience of working in the field.  I may not have worked directly with Medicare or Social Security, but I am well aware of how government bureaucracies work.  I pity those poor seniors who have no one to help them.  Would they be able to maneuver all those hours of phone calls and really understand what was said to them?  I have been thinking that, since this has been such a learning experience for me, I may take what I have learned and volunteer to help those who need someone to help.

Then, when I get home there is a letter in the mail from the health care center I chose.  It seems my doctor will no longer be working there...and I haven't even met him yet.  They offered me a choice between two other doctors, but the reason I chose the one I did was because he was affiliated with a hospital close to my home. The others were not.  Now what do I do?  

On the plus side, I discovered today that there a District Attorney who volunteers her time every other Tuesday to help seniors with their legal issues.  She's off now until after the holidays, but it is good to know should the union continue giving me problems with my pension.  It doesn't add up to a court case per se, but sometimes just getting someone with authority shows them that you are not fooling around.

And so, my friends, that was the gist of my day.  When I wasn't slipping and sliding on the ice, I was dealing with dealing with all the above nonsense.  Thank goodness for the blessings of quiet evenings, Christmas flicks, and hot chocolate with marshmallows. 

 When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

Author Unknown










Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Ramble

"The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown, Of all trees that are in the wood, The holly bears the crown: O, the rising of the sun, And the running of the deer The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing in the choir."


Good morning, everyone. Another snowy day here in the city, but it doesn't look to be so bad...yet.  they say only two inches or less, so I guess I will play it by ear.  I don't have to leave until after 9 am so I have time to make a decision.  I am just so afraid of falling.  Have an appointment with the social worker at 10 am so no Bingo today, but getting my benefits in order is first on the agenda right now. Next on my to-do list is this union.  Time to light a match under their butts. 

Today is the first day of the Roman festival of Saturnalia, an ancient Roman winter festival  which lasts for seven days Saturnalia which was originally an agricultural festal was held to honor the father of the gods who was associated with  seed and planting. This was a time of feasting, games, foods, and gifts.  Doorways and windows were adorned with greenery--wreaths, garlands--and trees were decorated with sun symbols and stars, our first Christmas trees. I have no special plans for the day, but I usually do light some candles in the eve to signify the sacred flame symbolic of the hearth which keeps me warm during the cold winter months.  Do you celebrate Saturnalia?

Do you remember when not too long ago I posted about a call I'd received supposedly from someone from Microsoft that was definitely a scam.  Well, since that time, I've also received calls from another scam advising me they are from Medical Compensation and that I am due some money due to some issues with the birth control pills I took.  Funny, cause I never took birth control pills.  Well, I've gotten several calls from them, and when my Microsoft friend called again yesterday, I was waiting for him.  

"I'll have you know that I have a relative who works for the police force, and I've asked him to put a trace on this call."  Yeah, I know that's pretty lame and throughout the years has outlived its usefulness, and it didn't phase him at all because he kept on and on.  But, it just so happened that hubby decided to call on my land phone at the same time and I picked it up and said, "Did you get that trace?"  My friend who was busily trying to explain that he REALLY was from Microsoft hung up very quickly. Why is it, I wonder, that all of these scams have guys call with Indian accents? 

It saddens me that there will always be those who try to take advantage of others and saddens me more that others fall for it.  Just beware.  Especially at this time of year.  There will always be someone ready to take your money.

The flute, whence Autumn's misty finger-tips
Drew music -- ripening the pinched kernels in
The burly chestnut and the chinquapin,
Red-rounding-out the oval haws and hips, --
Now Winter crushes to his stormy lips
And surly songs whistle around his chin:
Now the wild days and wilder nights begin
When, at the eaves, the crooked icicle drips.
Thy songs, O Autumn, are not lost so soon!
Still dwells a memory in thy hollow flute,
Which, unto Winter's masculine airs, doth give
Thy own creative qualities of tune,
By which we see each bough bend white with fruit,
Each bush with bloom, in snow commemorative.

Madison Julius Cawein










Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday This and That

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  

Roy L. Smith


Good morning.  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  I'm sure most have been busy with holiday preparations since most of us celebrate either Winter Solstice/Yule or Christmas and many of us celebrate both.  And then there are those of us, myself included,  who like to celebrate both. 
 
On Saturday it was cold and snowy outside so I stayed in my jammies, watched Christmas movies, and wrapped my gifts. I've finished all my shopping and didn't even have to deal with masses of rude Christmas shoppers.  Oh, why didn't I discover Cyber Monday sooner! There isn't as much under the tree this year, but material gifts are not what it is all about.   When I explained that both hubby and I were on a limited budget this year, my son, bless him, said "That's okay mom.  What's important is that we are all together." With all my motherhood mistakes, I guess I did something right. 

Merely of merchant's trafficking,
Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath
And surface pleasure, but beneath
The childish glamour, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind.
Let us follow kinder ways
Through our teeming human maze,
And help the age of peace to come
From a Dreamer's martyrdom.

Madeline Morse

And then later it was quiet time.  I did some reading, played some Bingo on my phone, and sipped hot chocolate while watching the snowfall. It didn't amount to much, but it sure was pretty watching it come down.  It felt good to just place all of my troubles on the back burner and just enjoy the day.  

On Sunday it was kind of messy when I got up, and it took awhile to make up my mind, but eventually I did shower and get dressed to go to Church. I really love the symbolism of the lighting of the Advent candles--Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Isn't that what this season is really all about? 

You really can't notice it in this picture, and I really wish I hadn't closer, but sometimes I feel strange taking pictures in Church.  I know that is silly  because they had told me as long as it wasn't during services.  Anyway, in the very front near the altar is a Christmas tree.  It stands just in front of a life size statue of Christ with his arms outstretched as if ready to embrace you.  The way the tree is set up it appears that Jesus is rising from the tree...a Pagan symbol.  I don't even think it occurred to them. Just a thought I wanted to share. 

I am staying home today though.  It's brutally cold out there and they say that all the the melting from yesterday has re-frozen into icy patches. I can't afford to take chances anymore.  I am petrified of falling.  At least, though, they are much better at shoveling here than where I used to live.  I remember many a morn heading off to work and holding onto fences as I made my way to the subway....which reminds me of something I wanted to share. 

The priest ended the Mass on Sunday with a little poem he had written while still in theological school.  It was called "When Did Snow Become Such a Bother." It was really beautiful, and I wish I had a copy.  It was basically about how we loved snow when we were children, how snow days were such a joy.  Oh, those happy times when school was canceled, and we could go out and make snowmen or build snow angels.  Then, as we became adults, we worried when school was canceled because 'who would take care of the children so we could go to work?' There was the bother of shoveling, of driving in icy weather, etc.  And then we grow older still, and now a snow day is something to be feared. We are afraid that we will fall.  Where we once 'loved' throwing ourself in the snow, we now have to worry about crippling injuries.

Just goes to show how our perception of things undergoes changes throughout our lives. 

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.

Ada V. Hendricks

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Roundup

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. 

Burton Hillis


Well, another week has passed.   It's been a cold week as well.  We had our first 'real' snow and though it didn't really amount to much, it did coat the ground with a sheet of winter white.  They say another storm is headed our way tomorrow.  Personally, I have a feeling it is going to be a rough winter.  Thank goodness I no longer have to trudge into work in this. 

So, yesterday I finally had a  a chance to sit down with the social worker, and we talked about this Medicare penalty and what I can do about it.  She even called Medicare, and basically there is nothing I can do but ask for an appeal.  It seems that one has only 60 days after Medicare kicks in to sign up for a Plan D (prescription drug plan), but that wasn't specified when I got my original paperwork for Medicare.  I was told that I was 'eligible' to sign up, not that I had only 60 days to do so.  My work insurance ran out on August 1so I supposedly had until October 10th.  But, I had not been informed about this, even when I called Medicare to ask some questions about Medicare Advantage. 

According to what I was told, there are certain enrollment periods that happen each year--October 14 to December 7.  If you recall, I had set an appointment with Emblem but they neglected to show.  Then, I asked them to send me info, which they neglected to do.  The third time worked like a charm and I signed up, but not quite soon enough.  According to what I read, the late enrollment penalty is an amount added to your Part D premium and applies if there is a period of 63 or more days in a row that you don't have creditable drug coverage. 

So, what they are saying is that I did not have drug coverage from October 1 to December 31, but that is so totally unfair.  I did sign up for it during that 63 day period, but they are saying that my plan won't take effect until January 1.  So, it is not my fault.  And the bad part is, this penalty will be taken from my social security check every month for the rest of my life.  (Anyone planning to retire, please take note of the above)  

And you know what frustrates me even more.  October, November, and December each have 31 days.  If even one of them had 30 days I would have been okay.   Grrrr!!! Not fair.  As I said before, why do I have to pay not only for medical, but now a penalty, and a drug dealer who never worked a day in his life gets it for free?  Time for me to start sending out letters to anyone who will listen...if, that is, anyone eft in our government bureaucracies who cares enough to listen.

Is it any wonder that I have become so disillusioned?  You work your entire lifetime and then you grow old and instead of being rewarded for all your years of hard work, you are penalized instead.  It has been one thing after another for me since I retired, and my once happy retirement has turned instead into a nightmare.  I am not even going to talk about my pension.  Suffice it to say, I am still waiting.

Hubby won his case, yes, but we've seen no money as of yet.  In fact, when he called Social Security yesterday, he was advised that the paperwork hadn't even been sent from the courthouse as of yet.  Well, what are they waiting for?  Don't they care that someone is depending on that money for survival?  I think not, because if anyone really gave a crap about us, they wouldn't make us jump through hoops for monies that are rightfully ours. Just another bureaucracy that doesn't care.  "Let him wait until we are good and ready"  is their motto.

But enough of that.  My cupboards are bare so it's off the the supermarket for me today.  Friday is a perfect day for me to shop.  They always serve fish, which I don't eat,  at the Center on Friday, and most others are still working so the store is fairly empty.  Besides, we have the storm coming on Saturday.  Best to get it all done so I am not running about in the nasty weather.Tomorrow will be a 'stay in your jammies' sort of day with hot chocolate and Christmas movies.  Sounds good to me.

So, in closing, I would like to leave you with the following quote I happened upon.  I have no idea who to credit it to, but it just seemed so appropriate to me as I face all these trials and tribulations.

"When you feel the entire world its against you,there is still a little voice in the back of your head that keeps saying"YOU CAN DO IT I KNOW YOU CAN" that is because you can."

Unknown

Enjoy your weekend.  See you all on Monday.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Joy

Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.  

Charles Caleb Colton


It's hard to believe that Christmas will soon be here.  It comes and goes so quickly now.  I remember from waiting for Christmas as a child. Time passes much more slowly for a child and a couple of weeks seems like forever! It seemed that Christmas would never here.  Now, each year seems to pass more quickly than the year before.  One Christmas seems to meld into the next, and birthdays? Forget about birthdays.  I don't even look forward to them anymore because they pass by so quickly, there is really no time to enjoy them anymore. 

Yes, time does pass quickly, but my memories do not.  I can still close my eyes and picture myself at six years old peeking through a crack in my door on Christmas Eve to catch a quick glimpse of Santa.  And, lo and behold, there he was...red suit and all. Amazing how strong a child's imagination is, for when I opened the door, it was my mom and dad I saw standing in front of the tree...and they let it be known that they were not too happy with me, but they needn't have worried. A child's imagination is powerful so I still believed, and it wouldn't be until a few years down the road that Santa would be retired for good....but the magic still remains.

I am an elder now, a Crone, and my children are grown, but I still try to enjoy that Christmas  magic every year. Oh, the joys of Christmas--the twinkling lights, the smell of pine, Nativity scenes, mulled cider, garlands, Christmas songs, Gingerbread houses, the cold, crisp air of winter.  And, of course, there is my yearly tradition of staying glued to the 'Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas'. I watch those movies over and over again.  Just the other day they aired "The Night They Saved Christmas".  I remember watching that with my boys when they were just little ones.  The show first aired in 1984, and I have watched it every year since.  That's a lot of years.

Another favorite is "A Christmas Story". Usually watch that one about three times on Christmas day and at some point during the following week we have meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and red cabbage.  It always looks so good that I cannot resist. Then there is the yearly tradition of "It's a Wonderful Life".  Other favorites include "The Polar Express", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and "Deck the Halls" with Danny DiVito.  Too funny. I get such a kick out of it when hubby comes out and says, "Didn't you just watch that the other day"? And each year comes the reading of "The Night Before Christmas."

One thing I really do miss is those wonderful old time Christmas specials television used to air years ago. I remember grandma and I used to sit and watch Lawrence Welk. Shows like "The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Special", "John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas", "Perry Como's Christmas shows",   "Johnny Cash Christmas Special", etc.  Remember them? 

Yes, it is true, time may pass quickly, but memories last forever.

They know that it's a special time of year It's time to rejoice in the beauty around us The time for giving and sharing Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  

Norman Vincent Peale

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Wonderland

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.

John Burroughs


Good morning, everyone. Thanks to all for your well wishes. I am feeling much better today. It was just some little bug that had to work itself out of my system. After a diet of dry toast, one boiled egg, a banana, and a hunk of Swiss cheese, I woke up starving this morning and want to eat everything in sight. It's going to be very hard to control myself, but 'pigging out' isn't the answer.


Despite my plans to stay in and nurse myself back to health, I had to go out yesterday.  I didn't go very far, only to the corner store.  With my tummy acting up I was afraid to go as far as the supermarket.  Miss Minga was in need of food, and hubby really doesn't know how to buy it for her.  She is just so fussy, even I never know what she is going to like from one week to the next.  It wasn't that I had no food for her. In fact, I have enough cans to last me until Friday, but these are foods she liked last week but sticks her nose up to this week. I spoil her so.  She is my precious little Angel, and I really don't know how long she will be with me. And now I am going to get off that subject because I cry every time I think of it.
The first snow came early this year, but they did say we are in for a rough winter.  It is a shame that city snow doesn't stay nice and fluffy for long. Today, it is very cold and probably the sidewalks, those not shovelled, are   a sheet of ice.  I may not even leave the house today.  As I told hubby, these were the kind of days I didn't go to work.  Why now take a chance on falling to go to the Center?  And probably not many will be there anyway.  Remember at 66 I am the youngest person there.  Most are in their 80's. 
Love how all the ladies have adopted me like a daughter. Sometimes I really don't know how to act.  I'm so used to being everybody's mother. It's kind of fun having people look out for me for a change. And with that, I bid you all a wonderful day as I go fix myself a bite to eat.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.

Bill Morgan, Jr.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Under the Weather



Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us now knowing this truth. We are at our best when they give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.

Albert Schweitzer


I'm feeling a wee bit under the weather today. In fact, I am feeling downright nasty. Did you know that being 'under the weather' is an old sailor phrase.  When sailors became ill due to the waves or rough weather, they would go below deck to recover and get away from the bad weather; hence, 'under the weather'.   

As for me, I seem to have picked up a very nasty tummy bug yesterday. I heard it was going around. Woke me about 4 am in the morning.  Bad stomach cramps.  I've been through this before so I knew exactly what to expect. Needless to say, it will be a very bland diet for me today....banana, rice, dry toast, and some yogurt, but later on when this bug settles down some.  I'm starving for some 'real' food this morning, but I know better. Have to let this thing run its course.

Last night I had a rather strange dream. Someone kept calling me on the phone, and when I picked it up, all they said was, "You let me down.  You left me when I was sick."  I don't know what to make of it.  Another life, perhaps? 

Lately, many of my dreams have been strange.  Most seem to center upon either my completing a  project.  I can't remember what the project is or even if it is the same in each dream.  And sometimes I find myself packing to move.  The house I am moving from is not any place I remember living in, but it is somewhat familiar.  Most of the time a man is involved.  He appears to have been someone who I was deeply in love with, but whom no longer loved me.  I spend much time in the dreams trying to regain his affection.  

It was suggested that perhaps there was something going on in my psyche that I am having trouble bringing into focus or a part of me that is feeling let down and calling for my attention.  As far as the dream with phone calls, it may very well have something to do with my ex.  I left him in 1991.  In early 1996 he was diagnosed with a rare form of groin cancer and died later that year.  Perhaps my son's constant chatter about his father has spurred this dream...or perhaps my ex is reaching out to me....and not in a good way. 

 The Land of Dreams

Awake, awake my little Boy!
Thou wast thy Mother's only joy:
Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?
Awake! thy Father does thee keep.

"O, what land is the Land of Dreams?
What are its mountains, and what are its streams?
O Father, I saw my Mother there,
Among the lillies by waters fair.

Among the lambs clothed in white
She walked with her Thomas in sweet delight.
I wept for joy, like a dove I mourn -
O when shall I return again?"

Dear child, I also by pleasant streams
Have wandered all night in the Land of Dreams;
But though calm and warm the waters wide,
I could not get to the other side.

"Father, O Father, what do we here,
In this land of unbelief and fear?
The Land of Dreams is better far
Above the light of the Morning Star." 
William Blake

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Morning This and That

 The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  

J.B. Priestley

 
Happy Monday, everyone. It is early morn, and I am sitting here sipping my coffee and trying to figure out if I am going to the Center today or not. It is nasty out there.  I hear the rain hitting my air conditioner, a cold rain. Yesterday eve we had our first snow. As I waited for the bus to take me to Church yesterday morn, snow was definitely in the air.  The gulls seemed to sense it as well.  They were out in full force, and their squawking seemed louder than ever.  Even the little birds were scrambling for food before the storm set in.  There were about six little wrens at the bus stop.  They were putting on quite a show as they battled over some crumbs. 

Then, about 3pm the snow began, and for awhile, it was beautiful, but then as the temperature warmed up, it turned to slushy stuff. Now, it is rain, but the ground outdoors is still slushy and a bit slippery. The bus stop is right on the corner, but I have a block and a half when I get off and most of that is non-residential.  Oh well, it is still early. By the time I am ready to leave, it will probably be just about gone.

I have to watch myself. Lately I find myself making excuses not to do things, and it appears that  SAD seems to be setting in a bit earlier this year.  Usually, it doesn't hit until the end of January, but this year I am feeling its effects already. The vibrant self I was when I first retired could now very easily become a hermit.  I am finding that I don't want to do anything anymore, and most mornings I find that I have to force myself to get dressed and go out. I don't even want to climb out of bed, preferring instead to stay in the world of dreams.  I am careful not to allow myself to slide too far down, but it is not a very comfortable feeling....and one that really annoys me because I really do 'love' the winter.

And dealing with these government agencies isn't helping matters any.  
Before I made the decision to retire I did lots of research into the different benefits available to a retiree and thought I had everything down pat.  I even printed out several copies of forms that were needed. I never would have retired had I not thought everything out.  I had even bought a special notebook to keep all my information in--names of agencies, what they offer, phone numbers, criteria for eligibility.  But it seems that that was not enough.

I wasn't counting on the union giving me a rough time with my pension, and then on Saturday I received a letter informing me  that I am facing a penalty because I did not have prescription drug coverage when I joined Medicare Advantage.  I don't understand.  I only got Medicare on August 1st, and wasn't aware that by October 10th I HAD to have prescription coverage.  I thought I had until December 7th to make a choice. 

I am so fed up with the whole thing.  Never did I expect this treatment.  After all, I'd worked all my life.  Shouldn't I be treated better than a drug dealer who has never worked?  Obviously, seeing what my husband and I have had to go through, that is not true.  I started to cry when I read the letter to hubby and said , "It makes me wish I had never worked." When I think back to these last few years, in pain, yet getting myself out and going to work everyday.  Sometimes I couldn't make it a block without stopping to lean against my cane.  And yet I did it, and I paid my dues.  And just look what it gets me.  Just not fair. Not fair.

Sorry, I just had to vent. And hopefully someone will learn from what I've gone through.  I'm sure there are several of you out there close to retirement age.  Use my experiences to save yourself from this unnecessary stress.  I'll get through this. It won't be easy, but we'll manage.  Hopefully hubby's money will start soon.  A new year is about to begin.  I know it has to be a better year.  Thanks for letting me share.

 A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn.  

Author Unknown

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Roundup

Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.  

Bill Watterson 


Happy Friday, dear friends.  It looks to be a stormy one here in the city, so today's a good day to stay home and catch up on some rest.  Been a busy couple of weeks for me what with Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating.  Most everything that has been happening has been positive aside from that mess with the union.  And, as far as that issue is concerned, I've already filled out the new application and faxed it over so I am hoping it is in the works. 

Now, I have  been told it has been expedited up to calculation, but I am not holding my breath.  I've resigned to not having my money until after the holidays, sometime in January, and after my initial anger, I realize that that is okay.  The longer they wait, the bigger the retro amount, and besides, Christmas isn't about money.  It's about being together as a family. It is about love, compassion, sharing, and caring.  

A great man passed away yesterday.  Nelson Mandela was one of the important men of our century. Sadly, I have read so many nasty comments about him on some sites, but what one must take into consideration is the spirit of forgiveness that he represented. Nothing can overshadow this memory. May he RIP.

Nothing much planned for the weekend. I'll do a little shopping on Saturday and attend Church services Sunday morning.  I love the rituals of the Catholic faith and especially loved the symbolism of the Advent wreath and the lighting of the candle last week.  Afterwards, I guess I'll address my Christmas cards.  I'm late this year getting started, but again, so much has been going on that little things have been forgotten.

By the way, did you know that a form of Christmas card began in England first when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents, but it is Sir Henry Cole who is credited with creating the first real Christmas card. (Source: All Things Christmas)

Wishing you all a joy-filled weekend.  See you on Monday.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Healing Power of Humor


The most wasted of all days is that in which we have not laughed.

Nicolas Chamfort

I really enjoyed yesterday's focus group and would have participated in it for nothing if asked. There were ten of us,  and some of the subjects we  touched on nutrition, medical care, medication, etc., and all unanimously agreed that we would like to have someone come to the Center to provide us with more information on preventative health care and nutrition.  One tries to eat healthy, but it seems that eating healthy is more expensive...at least in the city it is.  

Yesterday's lunch at the Center was fantastic.  Well, we actually began with a breakfast of jelly donuts and grape juice and a short explanation of Hanukkah.  Then, for lunch we had the most delicious homemade lentil soup, tuna, pickled beets, and pickled green beans.  It was fabulous and one of the best lunches there in a long time.

Hubby bought himself a joke book yesterday, and by the end of the evening, he had me climbing walls with some pretty corny jokes.  I mean, enough was enough, but they sure were cute, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.   Here are a few I remember.

Q. What did they call the cat who ate a lemon? 
A.  A sour puss.

Q. Is chicken soup good for you when you are sick?
A.  Not if you are the chicken.

Q. Why did the pantyhose need a lawyer?
A.  Because they were on the 'run'. 

Q.  What did the judge say when the skunk entered the courtroom?
A.  Odor in the court. 

Q.  What did the doctor say when his nurse told him the invisible man was in the waiting room?
A.  Tell him I can't see him.

Q. Why did the doctor become angry?
A.  Because he lost his patients.

And you know what?  I never did get to finish that chapter I was trying to read nor did I get to watch the television show I'd been wanting to see, but I sure did enjoy the evening. He had me laughing so hard the tears were running out of my eyes, and my tummy and sides were beginning to hurt.  It felt good to share a good laugh after all the stress we have been under for the past few weeks. He needed it, and I know I needed it, and for a short while, all of our worries flew out the window. Laughter surely does heal. 


A man isn't poor if he can still laugh.  
Raymond Hitchcock

 Mirth is God's medicine.  Everybody ought to bathe in it.  
Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Good News

Every day we touch what is wrong, and, as a result, we are becoming less and less healthy. That is why we have to learn to practice touching what is not wrong—inside us and around us. When we get in touch with our eyes, our heart, our liver, our breathing, and our non-toothache and really enjoy them, we see that the conditions for peace and happiness are already present. 

Thich Nhat Hanh


Today I have a lot of good news. First of all, I am signed up to make a fast $20 today.  Making money is always good.  One of the area hospitals is sending someone in to do a focus study to see how said hospital could improve on its services for seniors.  That's good, too, especially since my new doctor is affiliated with said hospital.  

Yes, changing doctors is an important decision I have decided upon.  Who needs a doctor they cannot reach?  When I need to talk to my present physician,  I either have to make a trip there or, as I have done on one occasion, write her a letter. No one ever picks up the phone or messages at that clinic...that is,  if one is lucky enough to find room on the voice mail to actually leave a message.  And, although she is very nice, all she does is sit at her computer and refer me to other doctors...and it doesn't seem to me that any of these doctors communicate with one another.  Remember how they all had me running back and forth for blood tests?  I became such a regular fixture in the lab that they actually waited for my weekly appointment. That shouldn't have been.

So, when I received an invitation to an open house at a multi-specialty medical office a few blocks from my home, I couldn't turn it down.  I like that everything, including the lab,  is all together under one roof, and I have heard from others that they have a very good reputation. And while we are on the subject, I have some news.

I have finally signed up for a plan to offset my Medicare and I believe, at least I think, I made a good choice. I'll know for sure when I finally put the plan to use.  I signed with Emblem, the plan I had when I was still working. It is a company I feel comfortable with because I have dealt with them for a few years now.  Of course, that was before I retired and they charging over $200 a month,  so who knows how it will be that I am a Medicare client.  Time will tell. 

Oh my.  I feel badly.  I signed up to do some reflective writing, and they are already going to Day 5, and I've not done Day 1 yet. I've just had so many things going on that I haven't been able to sit and think clearly.  Perhaps now that I have decided on a new doctor and medical plan things will ease up some for me.  Of course, I still have to deal with my pension problems, and money is in short supply, but eventually I know this mess will be cleared up, and, if there is anything positive about this, they DO have to pay me retroactively so I am looking at it as an extra savings account. 

I came home from the Center on Monday and completed my Christmas shopping online and found some really great Cyber Monday sales.  I've never done this before, but I can no longer deal with shopping in the stores.  I have panic attacks in crowds, and I cannot carry much of anything anymore. Besides, Christmas shopping has become so dangerous that there is no fun in it anymore. For example, on Saturday I went to the bank to draw out some money to pay my bills, and afterwards stopped at my favorite little bargain store.  The zipper on my purse keeps getting stuck, and it is time for a new one.  I was hoping to find a nice little bag, but the place was such a madhouse with people pushing and shoving that I hightailed it out of there and went straight on home. Times sure have changed. 

"I miss the good old days when Black Friday was actually on Friday." Unknown

 "Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have." 
Unknown