Monday, January 23, 2017

Over and Out

Housesitter here. Litter boxes filled. Water and food for the kitties and our bags are packed. Predictably Jim started packing 30 minutes ago. I've been packed for days. Men.

See you when I get back. I am unplugging except for Facebook on my Ipad. Even have a gracious volunteer overseeing the comments and fundamentalist trolls at NLQ.

Going to Costa Rica, coming back with a tan, possibly a job for Jim, things for our import business and contacts for business. Hell, we might even buy a house!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Grin and Take It For a Season

Many years ago I worked for just over a year part time at an insurance agency in a nearby rural county. It was a string of agencies all owned by a same drunken obnoxious woman, the local head of the Republican party. Her father owned a string of local car dealerships, and was politically well connected to everyone in the area. High up in Richmond at the state level of government too.

She brought me in to work on getting the ancient computer systems replaced and creating an interactive network between the locations. I would show up two or three days a week, work on the systems, installing, troubleshooting, setting up a database and other tasks. I'd keep my mouth shut, show up in appropriate business attire and work.

This woman, I'm going to call her Cynthia, was foul-mouthed, sat her in office drinking, smoking and listening to the police scanner pausing only to fight with husband #6. Daddy had given her the business. It was heavy going for me and I knew once things were straightened out on the information technology end I was going to have to leave. The cursing! The drinking! The yelled conversations about things like her 'puss filled pussy' (true story!) and how so-in-so was banging such-in-such or the goings on in the county she was eavesdropping on via the police scanner. A vile river of gossip and dirty words punctuated by vodka belches.

I also had to rebuff a large number of attempts by her to get me to drink with her or go to the country club to play golf. I did play golf once in a great while during college and every now and then when I was dating Jim, but I had not played for years by then. Add in I was in my own personal 'Carrie Nation' alcohol-hating phase and still drinking the Possum Creek koolaide. I was not about to do something as sinful as wear a short golf skirt and drink, or as frivolous as play golf. This was strictly business. Everything about this lady horrified me! People at church had warned me about her!

Every single day I went in I would pray for a long time for patience and to keep my tongue silent. I'd dread it, looking forward to the day I could leave for good. I kept telling myself that this was just for a short season, 18 months tops! I can do anything in the God that strengthens me and be an awesome witness to her on how a 'Good Christian' woman behaves.

My daughter was telling her boyfriend the other day about my time with Cynthia, all the wild tales right down to the time that the local country club's ladies locker room had been destroyed by a tornado and Cynthia cooked up a scheme to replace it. For about two weeks every time I was in the main office Cynthia was holed up in her office drinking and watching the film 'Calendar Girls'. If you've not seen 'Calendar Girls' it's a cute film about a women's club in the UK raising money by posing for and publishing a tastefully nude calendar of themselves. Cynthia became completely obsessional about the film that month.

After enough viewings Cynthia decided that this is exactly how her country club was going to raise funds to rebuild the ladies showers and locker rooms. Her exact idea was that the lady golfers like her were going to pose jaybird naked on the country club's golf course for a calendar and sell the calendar as a fundraiser.

I tried very hard to talk her out of it, just like I did every single time she cooked up a very bad idea and boy were there a long string of sheerly awful schemes coming out of her mind. I pointed out that hiding your gonads was going to be a difficulty on the golf course, what were they going to pose behind? A ball washer? One of those tiny flags? A woodie club? A golf bag? The caddy? I used every argument I could muster, about the inappropriateness of middle aged ladies parading in the buff in a public place, the immorality, the possibility of ridicule by every rural recondite in the area. She would not listen.

In the end she didn't get her way, no matter how wealthy and influential she and her family were. Once Cynthia approached the country club board of directors with the plan she was soundly voted down, with many of the same reasons I'd already tried on her. Cynthia hired a photographer on her own, recruited the few ladies at the club she could cow into it and took a number of test shots on her large estate and made up a sample calendar. I was gone from her employment by then because this battle of the calendar went on for a very long time, but my understanding is that it didn't go well and that several copies fell into the very wrong hands in this area, passed around, copied, scanned into the computer, launched onto the internet and hooted and hollered over by those same hillbilly types she insured at a high rate. She almost went into hiding the embarrassment was so great.

Back to my point, which really was not about the calendar. Boy did I follow that rabbit hole. After I'd been there over a year and was close to finishing up my original task Cynthia fired me. She confronted me bright and early one Monday morning over the fact that someone had been accessing hard core porn on a work computer and she thought it was me. I went into the server, ran a report, and the report showed that it was only being accessed from her husband's computer and much of it happened late at night or when I wasn't even working. I pointed out that it was not me, but it was her husband and she paid out the remainder of my contract right then and ordered me to leave.

I was so glad, it was only for a season, but in retrospect I should have ended the job the first time she tried to twist my arm to drink with her or during her first stupid scheme or the first time she started shouting out about her gynecological woes.

So this is sort of what my life feels like this week. Today I discovered that someone I'd admired, looked up to and loved from afar for years died of cancer last night. Discovered my poor mother had fallen down again and injured herself and Jim is no better. I'm trying to tell myself that this is just an awful season and I'll be alright if I just block my ears and do not drink the martinis... or pose nude for a calendar or anything super stupid.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fevered Dreams

I didn't sleep much last night. Every time I managed to drift off after staying up late and fretting about our situation I kept being jolted away from the middle of a bad dream. I get those crazy anxiety dreams when I'm worried. And I am very worried about Jim's lone kidney and the recent symptoms he's having that point to a possible return of cancer.

Last night's dream involved being at a high rise hotel with my kids and husband and a fire breaking out on our floor. As the flames grew the hotel personnel herded us to the floor below. They kept assuring us that we were safe, when it was obvious we were not while the flames started to travel down to the floor we were on. I made a dash upstairs with Jim to try and rescue our possessions before we fled the building only to find burning bodies littering the upper story of the hotel. Then I woke up.

This was the only one of the anxiety dreams I had last night that I remembered clearly, but I have had some doozies over the years.

Jim is starting to develop more symptoms that something is seriously wrong. He slept most of the day, complaining he felt tired, weak and feverish, yet his temperature is perfectly normal. But the bleeding has stopped as far as we can tell.

The Costa Rica trip is still on, as of right now. I hope that if this is a kidney stone that it's no longer moving around. He's had a few bouts with kidney stones that have quickly spun into kidney failure. The last time he was hospitalized for a week before I took him home with a catheter tunneled through his side right into his remaining kidney draining out the urine. That time his kidney did resume working normally quickly, but dealing with his urineostomy (probably seriously misspelling this) was something of a nightmare. It leaked easily and I had to go out and buy new pants for him to wear that could accommodate the appliance. He went to work in D.C., at his office, in a shirt, tie, sport coat and elastic-waist athletic pants for a good six weeks.

It's things like this that make me wish I still had the unsullied and trusting belief in the comfort of prayer to the divine. I've stopped praying some time ago. I still meditate, but I no longer pray. Praying seems in some ways like the most selfish of acts, a 'gimme gimme' to the divine or a false buttering up to a deity that would be petty enough to demand worship or else.

I would have so liked to have attended the protest march on D.C. today seeing I live 60 miles out, but between the lack of sleep, my worry, my tendency to have asthma attacks when exposed to peoples colognes and smoke smells and leaving my less than well husband alone I decided it would be better to simply stay home.

Avoided as much of the inauguration hooplah as I could. Was extremely worried for my son because he's originally planned on going into D.C. and watching from the Mall. After reading about the beefed up police forces and the expected violence I was happy to learn that he stayed home with the flu instead. Why add to my stress? Stayed off Facebook most of several days too. Today was all about curling up on the sofa and crocheting in front of the fire. Meditative, relaxing, no stress.

Church is going to be difficult tomorrow. I don't want to go at all.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hard Day

A few days ago I spoke about what was one of the worst times of my life, when my youngest daughter was in and out and in the hospital with ITP and spinal meningitis. One of the times I did not speak about was when my husband Jim had to have his right kidney removed because he had kidney cancer. This happened back in the summer of 2002. Terrible summer, his father died and at first the kidney cancer looked like it might be in his liver too. Kidney removed, back and forth to Louisiana between all those medical appointments and surgery visiting his father in the hospital after his first heart attack and stroke through his death. Torture.

Torture made even worse by members of my old church. I'm going to have to see if I can find the disc I saved my old Diaryland journal on where I chronicled the step by step angst of that summer of 2002. During the time we were walking through this the two most difficult to deal with people at my old church, Tommy and Tina Smith, inserted themselves, taking everything up a few notches of awful. One incident around the time of the surgery ended with Tom chasing me with an upraised fist threatening to beat me for being a a hateful unsubmissive woman who did not know her place. I chronically it all at No Longer Quivering in a series titled 'Who Was That Masked Man?'

Well, today was walking right back into what seems like it might be a hard place again. Jim started urinating blood yesterday, called his urologist at UVA and we were there much of the day. It isn't an infection and it's not as likely to be a kidney stone based on his lack of all pain. Only thing conclusively ruled out is infection. Could be his prostate bleeding, or...... and I hate to even think it.... cancer either in his remaining kidney or the bladder or prostate or somewhere in the urinary tract.

They wanted Jim to come in tomorrow, on a Saturday, to get that MRI, but were not able to get pre-authorization in time from our insurance company.  We leave for Costa Rica on Tuesday before daybreak. So the MRI is happening the day we get back. At the current level of bleeding, which seems to be off and on, the doctor thinks the travel will be alright. I am not convinced, but if we don't go we will be out close to a thousand bucks on airfare. The hotel rooms are still in cancellable and refundable status. Same with the rental car and the tours.

So it's going to be a delicate dance. If it's a kidney stone and it's shifting it is possible it could shift and shut down his kidney. This happened once before and when it happens it gets very serious very fast. He could start bleeding more while we're gone. I know that they say Costa Rica has good hospitals but I don't want to test that idea right at this moment.

I feel like running into the woods and screaming out my terror right now so loudly. Or breaking down and crying, but I can't. I know because of how awful it was the last couple of times with Jim and his kidney problems that I need to stay calm for him. He's barely holding it together.

The toughest moment of the day was when they wanted Jim to schedule to have some sort of test where the doctor runs a scope up Jim's penis and looks at his bladder and prostate to make sure there's no cancer there. Jim was out and out refusing because the test is invasive and painful. I was just not having that, pleading, cajoling, yelling at him to DO IT! He finally agreed after seeing how I was adamant about it. It has to happen. This is too serious to put off. I wish they'd have been able to get insurance approval and do all of this before our trip. I'm going to worry the entire time. Damn, and I was so looking forward to a stress free relaxing vacation in the most beautiful place on earth.

Not to mention what type of monkey wrench this might toss into our three years worth of planning this move. I just tentatively put a deposit down on a 20 foot shipping container to move our things. That's refundable too fortunately.

Damn, damn, damn!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Smiling Fool and Ugly Travelers

I've been cranky for months now, but I think that broke today. I realized as I was out picking up prescriptions that in a mere 6 days I'm going to be in Costa Rica. I cannot stop grinning like a fool and feeling almost high. I feel the stress already starting to melt away, even thinking about the hassle of flying a budget airline shoved in that tin can of a plane with meat and bacteria.

Not started packing yet, but I'm traveling light this time. A few changes of clothes, some sun block my Ipad. That's all I need.

~~~~~

On an unsmiling note yesterday morning I was at our local Starbucks having coffee and trying to update Jim's new tablet. His Christmas present will not connect to our cranky old wireless router and I don't feel like replacing the router until I know if we're leaving soon. No need to buy a new one till things are settled where we're ending up soon.

As I sat there gulping down my venti latte I could not help but overhear one of the most complaining conversations I didn't want to eavesdrop on. It was loud and had there been any other tables available while I was loading Jim's kindle books and Audible downloads I would have moved.

Guess what the subject was? The dirtiness and lack of safety in Costa Rica. Four people around my own age sitting around nattering about how positively dangerous it is to zip line, climb a volcano or walk across a swaying rope bridge, or eat the local foods was.

Live a little, folks! If a fat old lady like myself can climb a volcano and then climb another mountain to look down at a lagoon and up and down to waterfalls, swim in the ocean and come out alive then suck up your fear and do it.

Life is risk. You could stay home and have a piece of an asteroid fall from the atmosphere and boink you in the head, or get hit crossing the road. Staying huddled in America isn't any safer and there's plenty of dirt, poverty and what they were terming 'dirty foreigners' here too.

Hee. They were visiting a foreign country and calling the locals 'dirty foreigners'. And they had zero irony or awareness about it.

I kept my mouth shut, but it wasn't easy. Life - risky, dirty, and filled with the odd - all of that makes it worth living and at least a little interesting.

Please, if you travel internationally, do not ask for American style conveniences and complain when you cannot get them. Or call the locals 'dirty foreigners'. Or demand a hamburger.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Painful Rememberances

Yesterday we ran errands most of the afternoon before stopping by an old friends house. He'd had hernia surgery recently and I needed to drop off a Christmas present for his wife. He was doing well, in fact, much better than I expected considering he'd been limping around in great pain for at least three months before the surgery. I tried to get him and his wife to take the idea of the hernia surgery seriously months before because of the bad outcomes I'd seen in my years at the clinic with those that put off the surgery for months and ended up with necrotic bowel and multiple surgeries. One of the patients died.

They also had another guest yesterday evening. A lady named Lisa from their new church stopped by with homemade soup for the couple. They're all going to a megachurch plant nearby after having cycled through another small church after leaving the toxic mess that was Possum Creek Fellowship.

I didn't get a chance to talk much with Lisa before she left, but immediately afterward my friend started telling me about Lisa's recent struggles with her son's health. Her college aged son had developed ITP. She knew my daughter had suffered a long bout with that. In fact we almost lost her at 4 years old, from the ITP and later from the spinal meningitis she contracted from the blood products used to treat the ITP. Her health was impacted for many years because this illness tends to just wipe out your immune system.

Oh I found myself enmeshed in the old painful feelings and memories from that terrible time and found myself thinking about the most painful things in life, the biggest struggles, the things that are just so awful that they take your breath away. Not the annoying and nagging, like fender benders or broken refrigerators or even falling out with conservative relatives over the election. The heartbreakers are so much more than that.

That time when my daughter was so sick, in and out of the hospital, when we were told they didn't know if she'd make it, was literally the worst six months of my life. I'll never forget it. It's the very thing that ended up pushing me straight into the arms of our toxic old church during my frantic attempts to bargain with God to spare my beloved child's life.

Yeah, the old church exploited me in the worst moment of my life in order to pad their membership. That's what abusers do.

I've heard enough of Lisa's story to know what she faces, including hearing that her son's initial hospital bill had to be forgiven by the hospital after their health insurance denied paying penny one on his 60K bill. I don't know what type of insurance they have, but I would not be at all surprised to hear it was something extremely bare-bones or Christian Fundamentalist ponzi-scheme like.

 Her son is experiencing the wrecked immune system that goes along with this illness and the family is left wondering how they are going to pay for the experimental treatment that seems to be the last option they haven't tried to cope with the ups and downs of his platelet levels. It's not a great place to be.

I cannot undo what happened, I cannot change the fact that this terrible time I experienced led to spiritual abuse. I cannot pretend it wasn't the most painful worst thing to happen to me in a lifetime that has held some valleys along with the incredible highs. But I can do one thing, I can reach out to Lisa in this time and be a friend, an older friend who has walked this same unfair crummy path.

This type of helping, reaching out, advice, just simply listening, is what I believe the scripture that tells older women to help younger women genuinely means.  Not the shaming, blaming, telling others toxic instructions in the most derogatory terms used by Lori Alexander does on her blog. She does not have a clue about love or mercy, truly helping others, compassion, and I suspect, the horribly painfully moments that we all must walk through.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Would Pee on Donald Trump For Free

I've been out of my old cultesque church for ten years now Ten years. Wow. Long time.

I hadn't thought very much about the fact that so much time had passed until today. Earlier today I was talking on a Facebook posting of a friend's about how in most ways Mike Pence that close to the presidency is a far scarier than than Donald Trump as president.

There's just too much in the media about both the Republicans and the Democrats starting to gear up for an impeachment as quickly as possible. That's when they aren't sneaking around having middle of the night votes to kill the Affordable Care Act and to keep allowing places like Mylan to keep charging me that 600 plus bucks for the roughly six Epipens I go through a year. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I always fill the script for the six to have them in the car and all over the house and my purse. It takes 2 shots occasionally to turn off the anaphylaxis.

Even with the sneaking around and some of the truly scary picks for the administration part of me is starting to feel less hopeless about the Trump administration. Why? Couple of things. Trump may be a wild card and unpredictable, but there are two things very predictable about him.

One I was reading about earlier today in Vanity Fair that I've sort of sensed for many years. He is malleable and he listens to the calm rational advice of his daughter Ivanka. She's considerably less awful than much of things flying out of his mouth and on to his Twitter account. I believe that she will be able to perhaps guide him better than most of the folks around him.

The second thing is that he lives for fan adulation. If he allows the death of the Affordable Care Act, doing away with health care for the coal miners and working poor of the Midwest who've been squeezed out of formerly well paying manufacturing jobs plus kills things like the Black Lung benefit payments out of the ACA and touches too many programs like Social Security and Disability the very people that voted en masse on him will turn like crazed weasels and savage him. He will not be able to cope with those the most hardcore for him turning like that.

At least there's hope, no matter how small, that a Trump presidency might not be the goat rodeo it could be. I don't even care if he paid Russian hookers to pee, even if I know a whole lot of people who would be glad to pee on him for free. If there are sex tapes I don't want to see them, but if there is legitimate proof that he's colluded with Russia to take over the government then this is something that needs to be investigated by one of the nation's security agencies and dealt with.

But dealing with it might leave us vulnerable to his Veep taking over, to the Baptist Taliban rules of one Mike Pence.

But Pence? If the Republican party insiders do what I think they want to, which is get rid of Trump at the first opportunity, they will install Pence. Which has the potential to be much worse, at least if you are a woman. Pence would quickly dismantle any ability of a woman to control her own reproductive choices. I can see him trying to enact laws to return us to the subclass status of not being allowed to work outside of the home, hold bank accounts, vote or have any personal agency. A world that the Jerry Falwell's of this world would rejoice at, the same crap preached from every Fundamentalist, Quiverfull or Evangelical pulpit in the nation, a theology that have nothing in common with the words of Jesus in the New Testament.

What was interesting to me in this Facebook discussion on a friend's wall about the dangers of Pence as president was after I'd broken down all of Pence's beliefs and scary attempts in Indiana to strip women of basic human rights someone popped up to tell me I was unfairly categorizing Pence as a 'Fundagelical' - a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian.

Why did this person think I was wrong? Because he said that Pence was no Real Christian (tm), he was a heretic. I kept questioning this guy, drawing out his bonafides as to what constitutes a Real Christian (tm) and what's a heretic. He claimed that anyone that was an old school Jesus Freak like him from the old Jesus Freak movement in the 60s and 70s was a Real Christian (tm) and everyone else was a heretic. Keep in mind that this is the same movement that gave us child beaters Michael and Debi Pearl and their nasty misogynistic child abuse manual that still claims victims 'To Train Up A Child'

I asked this guy so many questions, pointing out that he's condemning everyone else who's koolaid i flavored slightly differently than his to an eternity in hell. He was running in circles trying to justify his gospel so far from the words of Jesus that eventually he erupted in a volley of shrieking about sin, hell and damnation followed by lots and lots of dirty words.

At that point my friend whose Facebook wall was hosting this discussion stepped in to defend my position and me from Mr. Nasty Fundy. I laughed at that, first from the notion that my friend felt the need to defend the little woman because this apparently pushed his chivalry buttons in some way. But mostly because this guy is someone that I dearly love even if he's one of those mostly failed almost rock stars. Beautiful voice, beautiful songs, but not much of success.

He missed that I never once was rude, lost my temper or said anything even slightly attacking to Mr. Fundy. I just kept questioning him and making him defend his belief. It's a useful skill I've picked up in the last ten years after leaving the old church. If someone who hasn't thought deeply about their theology is forced to think about what they are claiming and they cannot they fall apart.

Don't engage in personal insults. Don't accept their platitudes without challenging them in an intellectual way. Always reflect their statements back to them almost verbatim. Deflect their questions and ask another question of them. It's really the only way to handle these folk that want to fight about religion.

I did that and Mr. Fundy stomped off after losing his cool and my pal defending me voraciously before deleting the entire thread.

Here's what I believe now that I haven't actually verbalized to anyone in my life, but I might have to when I tell Jim I'm not attending church tomorrow. Here's the sum of my gospel - Try not to be an asshole as best you can and when you fail just pick yourself up, don't stress or feel loads of guilt and try, try again. Be kind but don't let others take advantage of you.

I no longer believe every word of the Bible is the exact perfect true word of God. It's been edited too many times in too many less than optimum circumstances to be pure and unadulterated. Some of the content is too contradictory and weird. There are some useful passages, good for comfort or advice, but largely it's a historical document that is largely fictional.

Also, while I still believe that there is another realm and the ultimate good and evil out there I think it looks nothing like what most folks in American Christianity think. I believe what's true would likely freak them the fuck out, it's larger and something that most of them could never comprehend.

I still like to worship the divine, but even that is changing within me. I have faith that all of us, even Mr. Fundy, carry some spark of the divine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Full Moon and Crickets Chirping

I can always tell when it's a full moon before checking any calendar or almanac. People in this tiny Southern town start behaving in some ornery ways. Not just the bad drivers either. I think my encounter with the senile man at the dentist happened during the last full moon of 2016. Most of my crazier near accidents happen during the full moon and the dapper senior men that think the grocery store is a real life Tinder are worse during that time too.

When I worked in social work it was when the patients/inmates were the most irrational and rowdy too.

I noticed yesterday afternoon that our 16 year old neighbor girl was busy giving a teenaged boy a ride on the top of her car around the neighborhood. He made a seriously demented looking large hood ornament. That's something you don't see every day While he fell off the hood at least he didn't bust his head and leak his brains out on the pavement. No wonder statistics show that horrible things happen with teens between 3 and 6 pm. There's no one home to watch them reenact Jackass stunts.

Supposed to snow/sleet tonight and into tomorrow midday on top of all that. I neglected to consider that when I went out to replenish my hording of diet coke and fizzy mineral water, meaning everywhere I went was filled with frantic people seizing up all the bread and milk, acting more agitated than usual and filled with the obscenely overtly besecented. Lots of foggy clouds of cologne.

I had to don my hepa filter mask because the store was so crowded with snow panickers that as soon as I walked in the door I started wheezing like crazy. Put on the mask, picked up a few things, picked up prescriptions and prepared to pay for my groceries. The ladies in the pharmacy section said it was smart of me with my wrecked immune system to be wearing that mask in the store that day because apparently a large portion of the town is sick with the flu right now. But I've had that particular strain earlier in the year, in the fall before I got my flu shot.

Except for the crowds and the wiped out dairy and bakery section the trip was going okay. Spotted no one from my old church, which is one reason I shop at this particular grocery store with the organic foods and gourmet items. Most of the ones I wish would just leave me the heck alone only shop at Aldi or Walmart. At least until I started checking out. Things went full moon weirdorama.

I took one of the six self checkout stations and started scanned produce and diet coke. There was a line waiting for an empty terminal, there was an empty checkout station right next to mine, but the first lady in line kept staring at me with a horror struck look before she started giving me angry glares. I pointed over to the empty working checkout station and told her it was free and she went off on me, all yelling and spittle-flying worked up.

Apparently because I wore a hepa filter mask over my mouth and nose she thought this signaled I was Typhoid Mary roaming the aisles gleefully spreading Ebola and the Plague to the bread-grabbing masses. I tried to cut her off and explain that it was to keep my asthma in check in a free floating sea of colognes and cigarette smells, but she kept shrilling insisting I should stay at home and stop trying to spread my germs. There oughta be a LAW! D'oh!

Slunk off home majorly embarrassed after receiving the death glares of everyone in line that assumed what the angry random woman said was true. Spend the rest of the day firming up our hotel reservations for our trip.

Which made me realize something. It's been strangely quiet in the religious peanut gallery from my old church that loves to look at my Facebook feed and either send me pms telling me I'm going to hell for watching 'Game of Thrones' or mocking the president elect, or posting things with a very oblique passive aggressive sub context.

I am curious to see if what happened on my last Costa Rica trip happens this time too. Last time we went and I posted a couple of photos on my Facebook feed apparently some of the usual gang of people were discussing how disgusting it was that my husband and I were living it up like rich tourists. Which was silly. It was a nice enough trip, but definitely NOT lux at all. We stayed at pretty average resorts, which meant we weren't much in the rooms, usually at the beach, at the volcano, at the lake or jungle, not in the tiny rooms.

But I had fun after someone forwarded to me all the whining and complaining about our trip on their closed list. I took up the posting up a few notches knowing I had a jealous audience. Posted things like about the day I had a nude massage outdoors in the sunshine in spa built into the volcano rock in the side of the actual volcano, while clutching a tropical drink of rum and mangoes.

This time is going to be decidedly less fancy than last time. We didn't buy a travel agent package. We are not staying at resorts, more local places and cabinas that cost a lot less. I doubt there's going to be outdoor nekkid massages or tropical drinks with bananas and rum and little paper umbrellas. But I guarantee the usual people will say the usual things about how wasteful and what bad stewards we are of the money that the Lord has granted us. If they only knew just how hard we penny pinched and saved to pull off this trip, how many months planning went into it.

That's another thing that puzzles me about my old faith community. When something good happens to people I know I'm happy for them, not comparing or judging and thinking they are assholes or awful for that good thing. I wish them well.

Most of the time in the old church people seemed to thrive on hearing that bad things had happened, enjoying the misery, but hating when something positive happened to someone else. I hope I never get that way.

Although if they start gossiping this time I had nothing to poke them with this time. Poking mean people has its moments of fun too. Particularly the self righteous and judgmental.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Red Tape

Today held all sorts of frustrations. We've been fighting an ongoing battle with Social Security, Medicare and our insurance company Blue Cross. It's gotten so bad that our credit history has taken a couple of dings. I went ahead and paid the medical bills that they're squabbling over who has to pay. I hope today's actions finally resolve this confusion and I get reimbursed from Blue Cross.

Remember Jim retired July 2015? September of this year he was eligible for Medicare. There's just one problem with that. I will not be Medicare eligible for nine more years. Which means if Jim switched to Medicare his employer issued Blue Cross policy would cancel, which would leave me uninsured. We did the numbers a bunch of different ways, including having me sign up for insurance through the ACA exchange before we decided because of my severe asthma problems that he needed to decline Medicare and keep our family insurance policy. None of the offered policies came anywhere near what we already had. Our youngest is still on it too as long as she's in grad school.

So in early August when he started receiving a flood of Medicare information Jim went down to our local Social Security office and signed the paperwork to opt out. The first of September they started taking the Medicare insurance premium out of his retirement check.

Many phone calls and many visits later it's come down to our insurance company, Blue Cross Federal Employee Program, refusing to pay more than a very small portion of his medical bills because they think Medicare is primary, no matter what Medicare says to them on the phone. Today we faxed all the paperwork to Blue Cross that proves it was declined in early August. I hope this resolves this as we've been working on straightening out this mess since September. At least in December they finally refunded all the Medicare premiums they'd taken since Jim declined.

In the meantime I've been dealing with angry billing depts at UVA and our local chiropractor, who are also insisting we pay up front since Medicare is rejecting paying and Blue Cross is only giving them payment on what they calculate is the remainder after Medicare.

That was the morning but the afternoon wasn't any better. I was on the phone and internet with the state DMV. Back in late December, before Christmas, I renewed the registration on our son's car, paying for it online, downloaded and printing out a temporary registration. We're bumping up against the expiration date on that temporary registration and the stickers for the license plates and registration are not here yet. Starting to freak out. They told me that none of that had been mailed until 2 days ago even if I payed before the holidays. They are blaming the holidays but I've never run up against this before and I've been dealing with renewing our car registrations online for over ten years now. Usually you get the registration in a week tops. Of course the local DMV office is taking off for two days for MLK Day too, tomorrow and Monday. They told me I have to wait another two weeks before I can claim the registration is lost in the mail and give me another one.

Government bureaucracy at it's finest. And I suspect it's all about to get much worse. I think others are feeling that way too because I heard yesterday that the government division my husband worked for suddenly filled all their vacant job slots for the first time in years, flooding the division to full capacity. I can only think it's because of they fear what our new president might do to the dept.


The Old Hippies Meet The New Hippies

As soon as I got up this morning I made the discovery that Mary, senile and incontinent kitty of around 18 years old had peed in my expensive good leather boots. Unfortunately I didn't discover it until I'd put the boot on and wondered why my leg was damp and smelly.  Mary can be scrupulous about using either the upstairs or downstairs litter boxes until she has a spell and starts going in weird places, like my boot.

I guess Donald Trump wasn't around. Hee. Was that weird news or what coming out of Buzzfeed about some of our president elect's uh, err, umm, activities in Russia. I have to admit, as a full time joker my first reaction to hearing the news was to say that he could have saved his money and I would have peed on him for free.

One of the big things we did today, besides laugh over some of Trump's words and antics, was go around and talk to the various head shops and smoke shops to see if there was any interest in imported carved pipes from Costa Rica. Last year we brought one back for one of Jim's friends, with an iguana hand carved and painted on the pipe for very little and it was a big hit.

A couple times I've mentioned to Jim that I thought importing things like the carved pipes would possibly be a good business to take up upon our move to the big CR. Turns out there is a market for that sort of thing along with other handicrafts from the area.

We had a long enjoyable conversation with the nice young man that owns the local head shop and he's on board carrying the pipes and other things. It was one of those old hippies meet new young hippies moments.

Learned that everyone has pulled CBD oil off their shelves because the government is making it illegal to sell except in states where weed is legal. Which is unfortunate since I'm getting more and better asthma control and having less incidents of anaphalax type allergic reactions after starting taking CBD oil daily. I just wish they'd legalize or let people that need it for medical purposes have it. You can't even get high with it at all. It works pretty well for chronic pain too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

I Don't Speak Dog Apparently

I learned something important about myself this week. I don't speak dog-go. I'm officially an old cat lady.

Seriously, I did alright with the dog, but there were rough moments, like when she would start whining and barking and I would have no clue why. There was water, food and I'd just walked her. She's just relieved herself. She didn't want to play with her toys. I could not always figure out what was going on in her canine mind.

Which was somewhat frustrating. I was afraid the neighbors might be annoyed by all the barking.

Kind of like dealing with a baby, a fragile critter without much in the way of communication skills.

But I think she was simply missing her mom and dad.

Cats I get. I understand the body language, the meowing, the behavior. Well, most of the behavior. Even I get stumped occasionally, like when Kiki decided suddenly a few weeks ago to start greeting me in the morning by jumping up on the master bathroom sink while I was peeing, sauntering over to the toothbrush holder and casually chewing on Jim's toothbrush.

He's 17 years old and has some odd behaviors, like coming running every time I use a blow dryer and watching intently and he likes to do somersaults down the staircase when he's happy to see you. But this toothbrush chomping was a new thing. I don't know if it's the minty taste of leftover toothpaste on the brush, or the texture of the bristles but after trying a bunch of things to discourage him I finally gave up, left Jim's old toothbrush in the holder and hung a new toothbrush way up out of his reach on a new hook next to the mirror. Kiki's old, let him have the wornout toothbrush.

I never did get around to quilting on my dog sitting five days. Actually I ended up doing piles of laundry. I was dog sitting for my daughter, the one that works at a local university full time while working on her masters degree. She has no time for anything. Her brother and roommates who share the place with her all work long hours. Once I went downstairs to the laundry room in their townhouse and saw the overflowing baskets and boxes I decided that the least I could do to help them out was do the large backlog of laundry, washing, drying, folding. Filled the loveseats and fainting sofa in the basement rec room with folded fresh clothing, towels and bedding. I was glad to do it and help them out. They work so hard and such long hours.

Did a little other cleaning and spent most of the time much more time physically active running up and down flights of stairs. Feeling physically well for a rare change. Tired now that I'm home and having to do my own mountain of laundry and start to pack for Costa Rica.

Did a little shopping at my favorite stores and scored a big bargain. A packable down filled puffer jacket. Rolls and squishes down to a tiny light package.

Another travel worry gone. We leave on the 24th as soon as the house sitter arrives and the 24th in the D.C. area is usually as blisteringly cold as this last weekend where the high was a balmy 22 degrees. When we arrive in Costa Rica it will be in the 90s. That's the only big drag about flying from one extreme to the other. I was sweating over the idea of how to dress and pack. If I dress for Costa Rica I'm going to be shivering on the train to the airport, but if I dress for our weather I'm going to be dragging along a heavy coat. This little light coat solves my problem. Even better I got it on final clearance.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Taking a Deep Breath

I'm house sitting this week for a relative near DC. She didn't want to leave her dog in a kennel or have me bring her dog to my house because of the number of cats I have. This is a B-I-G dog, part pit bull and part lab, that loves me.

It's very quiet here, just the perfect antidote to the frenzy of the holidays. So far I've walked the dog this afternoon in the middle of the afternoon snow flurries until we're both shivering and I've worked on getting content lined up, loaded and scheduled in the queue for No Longer Quivering for the ten days I'll be in Central America at the end of the month.

Brought my latest quilt to finish and my sewing machine too. But didn't work on it today. I did clean the windows in this townhouse and do some other small cleaning because the person who lives here works long hours and does not always have the time to wipe down the windows and a few other tasks. It's all good. I'm happen to help her.

It's nice to take a break because back home I'm still immersed in my Sisyphean task of  gutting each room of possessions, sorting what needs to stay and what needs to go on Craigslist, or to Goodwill. We even sold my car. For the first time in twenty 27 years we're down to one car again. I couldn't believe it, the first person that looked at my car, first one to contact us, bought it within a few minutes of test driving it, and I got close to Blue Book value!

It's been mostly sunny and mild until yesterday so we've done many things outside too, like cleaning out the gutters, trimming trees and bushes, turning over the vegetable garden before mulching it like mad and trimming weeding the yard. Yes, all these things are build ups to renting the house out. One day was warm enough to break out the muriatic acid and I scrubbed the steps and walk ways leading to the front door.

So this is a nice quiet winter interlude from the frenzy of planning for our move. At least until lunch time today. I remember why we left the go-go of Northern Virginia in a big way.

This morning, while Jim was here before he goes back home to teach his class and do a few other things, we made a Costco run just as it was starting to snow, witnessing all the reasons why we're happy we no longer live this close to Washington D.C., why we moved to the middle of nowhere up against the mountains. A fight in the parking lot between a white middle class lady driving a minivan and a Hispanic lady driving an SUV. Over, you got it, a parking space. It ended badly with the white lady telling the Hispanic lady that once Trump takes office she'll be deported, she and her parking space stealing self.

People in my tiny crazy town can be incredibly horrible drivers, people who don't understand how stop lights and turn lanes work and just general assclowns when out in public but this is the first time I've seen a near fist fight with racial epitaphs hurled anywhere. This would be less likely to happen in my town, here it looked like business as usual.

Northern Virginia is beautiful and a great place to live. There's museums like the Air and Space in Dulles, or the Newseum. It has malls and miles of shopping. There's theater and something is happening all the time. But I don't miss the expensiveness of living there, which I experienced today when I had sticker shock in the grocery store, things just cost much more here than out another 50 miles where I live. Rude attitudes, higher prices and the constant go-go culture.

Snowing and cold tonight. I'm staying in and cuddling with a huge dog.

I'm finding that I'm craving peace, fresh air and quiet the older I get.