Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Children's Medicaid Gets Cancelled Every Time My Husband Has National Guard Duty

There.  Now if anybody puts some of those terms into a search engine, they might find me.  I haven't been able to find anybody else who's having this problem.

As far as I've been able to ascertain, we haven't been cancelled yet this year.  They've certainly made my life unpleasant, though.

Basic training in 2009, summer stints in 2010, 2011, and this year--every time, a few days after he starts (and it's been different times of the year), the nice people at the FSSA office cancel my children's Medicaid.

If someone wants to contact me regarding this, my email is deb8851@gmail.com.  Or just leave a comment.  And feel free to peruse the blog if you want to read about everything that's happened so far.  Beware--I talk about lots of other things, too. :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

O.K., Now What ??? (surviving SHTF)

Somebody in an online group to which I belong recently brought up the topic of who's going to die first if there is a major catastrophe--what survivalists refer to as "SHTF" (s*** hits the fan).

Of course, really elderly, infirm people, and severely disabled people, and people who depend on electricity and/or medication (so many people don't have even a week's worth of their life-saving medications on hand) or life support, are probably going to be first.  This is not pleasant, but denying reality won't help anybody.  As an amateur survivalist, I personally try to keep a stockpile of prednisone and antibiotics on hand for myself, but if the lights went out and it got cold in the winter while I was sick, I could be in serious trouble.  Certainly leaving my home during an episode of illness would be bad.  Fortunately, where we live I'm quite likely to be able to 'shelter in place'--we're in an isolated area and I'm fairly stocked up, so I wouldn't have to venture out for supplies right away.  Being disabled is not a factor in my favor..

This morning, after my family left for church, I saw yet another piece of one of those TV shows where people get a free home remodeling.  (I haven't really changed the subject here lol)  Someone was complaining bitterly about the type of flooring in their old shower, and how people would actually want to use the new shower.  And the old one didn't look that bad!

I see this all the time.  And then I look around my house.  Our flooring is coming apart--and I'm just glad we don't have actual holes to walk around.  Some people do.   Our toilet doesn't flush right.  But we have indoor plumbing.  The other day one of my daughters asked why we have so many things on the walls.  I like things on the walls.  But the real reason is that there are holes in the decaying plaster in every room in this house.  However, the house is at least structurally sound.  I was glad when a storm a couple of years back blew down our chimney so we could get a new roof with insurance money--we were starting to get leaks everywhere.

When my husband joined the National Guard and we got the bonus, one thing we did was replace the bottom half of our kitchen.  Now our counter top is not crumbling and all of the cupboards have doors.  We would have done it sooner, but where would the money have come from?

Our furniture is old and crumbling.  Our appliances are old and cheap.  Our house hasn't been painted, we 'need' landscaping.  Our cars often don't run perfectly.  Or look pretty.

People sometimes think we need to take pride in our house.  The reality is that we're just broke.  All the time.  For years and years now.  I'm afraid to have people over, because of the judgmental attitude I've experienced several times now.

But I'm not saying this just to complain.

We buy generic, non-organic, not always healthy food, because it's cheaper.  But I remember my mother telling stories of the Thanksgiving her family had one can of spam, and biscuits made with flour and water.  She tells of outhouses, and having to walk a long way to a neighbor's house to carry water home.  Of living in a house built over an open sewer.  Of collecting bottles along streets for money, and wearing classmates' discarded clothes, and never getting a high school yearbook.  I'm sure my mother's stories have had an impact on my attitude.

We have a lot to be grateful for.  Honestly, we live in a magical time.  I get up in the morning, and the interior of my house is climate-controlled.  I flip a switch, and it's light.  Presto!  When our electricity went out a few weeks ago, one of the things I noticed was how much it sucks when you get up early in the morning and you can't do anything because you can't see.  And then there's the running water--cold and even hot.  Telephones and internet and automobiles connect me to people I might hardly ever see (or not even meet) otherwise.  And I have access to all kinds of art, music, entertainment, and knowledge on every subject, right in my own home.

And then there's modern medicine.  I (hopefully) won't get a small injury and die from infection.  I almost certainly won't die from the bubonic plague, or polio, or smallpox.  I have contact lenses so I can see.  I'm forty-six and I still have all my teeth.  I might live another forty years if I'm lucky.  Life expectancy is a lot longer than what it used to be.

This is an incredible time to be alive.

I know an awful lot of people who have no idea how lucky they are.  They're fussing over their interior decorating, lamenting that their kitchen cabinets are ten years old and need to be replaced because they're now out of style.  I've heard people go on about how they've got a lesser-paying job and can't afford to buy new clothes now, what a tragedy.  Except they already have fifty outfits. 

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the Wal-Mart card I usually get from my family for my birthday (in a little over a month) so I can buy a couple of things.  Sometimes I've been down to one pair of pants, or one pair of shoes, or a couple of shirts.  No winter coat at times.  A purse with a broken strap.

People go on about their vacations, and the expensive restaurants they go to.  And they seem to have no idea how fortunate they are.  The actually complain about how little money they have, sitting there wearing their designer clothes and jewelry, hair styled professionally, manicured fingers and Vera Bradley purses.

These are going to be the first people to crack if/when the "SHTF".  Because they will have no idea what to do when their manicurist and hair stylist close up shop.  Seriously.  And heaven help them if the lights go out.  No cell phones.  No internet.  No television.  No showers.  Don't get me wrong--I'll miss those things and hope they come back real soon.  But I could survive mentally, short-term certainly, but long-term if I have to.  And that's the attitude that will carry the day for some people in a crisis.

Us poor people have learned valuable skills over the years.  How not to take too much pride in our appearance (don't get me wrong here--I showered today and everything).  Or our homes (yep, I've done chores, too).  How to survive when the phone or internet or TV gets shut off (because we couldn't pay our bill).  How to eat at home, with whatever we're lucky enough to have in the kitchen.  How to tolerate physical discomfort.  How to get along without medical care.

How to fix a strap on a purse and deal with the fact that we can't buy a new one right now.

Some of the wealthier people, especially if they've never been poor (or camped a lot, or something), will get up in the morning and make what might be the most important decision of their lives.  "Well, look what's happened, now what am I going to do about this?"  They'll develop at attitude of "What will I do today to take care of me and mine", and they'll use that mental attitude to cope. 

But I think many people are going to have a nervous breakdown. 

A lot of them haven't even admitted to themselves the possibility that society could ever have even a temporary breakdown.  Maybe it's too terrifying to contemplate.  Although when a minor disaster hits, I personally find myself a lot calmer with my bottles of water and cupboards of food and candles and wood stove and wood.  It's like, 'Oh, OK, this is what I prepped for, now this is what I'm supposed to do'.

While some people are having their nervous breakdowns, they might not even have clean drinking water, or food, or heat, or light, or medication, because it never occurred to them that they could be thrown on their own resources, for even a few days.

They will be in shock to find themselves in a situation where it no longer matters what kind of flooring they have in their shower.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I'm still here.  Waiting to hear from Medicaid, waiting to hear from Social Security about that CD I'm supposed to have gotten.  I've done a bit of checking into immunologists, and it looks like I'm going to have to get somebody to drive me a couple of hundred miles at least if I want to see one as part of my appeals process.

On a brighter note (no pun intended), I could have been killed Tuesday.  We think we had a bolt of lightning hit the electric pole in front of our house.  In forty-six years of living, I have never seen white light (with a touch of blue) light up the entire interior of a house like that.   Simultaneously, there was a sound like the end of the world, and a huge POP.  And a second burst of white light, almost as bright as the first.  That POP was all of our lights getting knocked out.  What is it with us and electricity this year, anyway?  With some fiddling with the breaker box outside (after the lightning subsided) I got most of the lights on, but two outlets were not working, and we have no hot water.  My husband doesn't come home until tomorrow night. 

I don't know what possessed me at the grocery store Monday--I bought three boxed family frozen dinners, which I don't normally do.  They just looked good?  We usually have foam plates and plastic cups and utensils on hand, wanna-be survivalist that I am.  So we're okay.  We just can't do dishes or laundry.  Or shower. :(

Fortunately when the storm started I unplugged all of our technology.  I love my tech.

I had some work coaxing one of the dogs outside an hour later--I had to go outside and show her that it was safe, and talk her into following me a little bit at a time.

On a much brighter note, my sister is coming in a couple of weeks. :)  So today my four girls and I went over and helped clean Mom & Dad's house.  I cleared spiderwebs (there weren't many) all over, swept outside, and scrubbed--bathroom sinks, toilets, kitchen sink.  The girls dusted every single thing, and cleaned mirrors.  Mom & Dad bought us lunch and paid the girls.

And we reminisced about the time my second daughter was around three years old, and we were watching a television show at home about a mother having a baby.  She wanted to know what had happened to the other one.

You see, she had (still has, she's just older....) a six-year-old sister, who I think she may have thought was her twin.  We had the real twins.  I have one sister.  My mother has one sister.  My husband has--two sisters.  His mother was a twin.  I guess it was a logical assumption.

We had a tiny bit of excitement on the way out this morning--we saw a woman walking on our (very isolated) road, with a black pick-up with tinted windows slowly following her.  I don't know what possessed me, but I sped up the lane with my phone in one hand and pulled up beside them--and by then it was obvious they were just looking at the corn crop--they knew each other.  So I didn't have to ram the pick-up with my car or anything. lol  I was almost a hero.  Something must have activated my 'mother bear' gene.

And I didn't notice if there were tears on their faces--honestly, the corn crops around here are mostly toast.  I'll be really impressed with genetic engineering if the rain saved half that corn.  But they may have lucked out--the beans are looking better every day, and they may sell for a high price because of the drought.
Oh, and I found another blog I like: http://theaspiewizard.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/the-confusion-of-aspergers/ . It's written by an autistic woman. Tonight I enjoyed reading an earlier blog entry about her cat, Dammit Fletcher.  I might blog about another one of her posts one of these days.

Not much else happening.  We've had a lot of rain, and I mowed the lawn last night for the first time in ages, and the mower cooperated by running continuously.  Tonight I got out the weed whacker.  It's nice not to have to water all the plants all the time.  I can only hope this continues.  I know that the drought hasn't abated at all in most of the rest of the half of the country that's been affected.

I've got the framework down for the second movement of my sonata.  I'm pretty happy with it.

I've been looking into taking an online class on Kabbalah.  Right now the cost is prohibitive.  But I found out tonight that there may be a scholarship available.  I'm just finishing my third book from the box I got for postage several weeks ago.  'God Wears Lipstick' by Karen Berg.  Before that it was 'The Monster is Real' by Yehuda Berg.  I've been taking notes, too.  I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to read the Zohar.  There's an English version, but it's quite a commitment--twenty-three volumes in all.

More volumes than Harry Potter. :)  But I'm a firm believer in the idea that you don't really understand a religion until you've read the literature upon which it was founded.  I've been stunned over the years at how the tenets of Christianity have been misrepresented in all sorts of creative ways.

And now that I'm getting all philisophical, it must be almost bedtime.  I'm not convinced of the wisdom of blogging right before bedtime--my brain generally tries to go to sleep an hour or so before my body.

Good night!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Anybody know where I can get cheap mangoes?

Well, I went out shopping today.  We went to the post office (to pick up a package from my sister), the library (to drop off a few items that were due), my parents' house (to get cash for groceries), lunch, the bank, the dollar store (daughter #4 had tooth fairy money to spend), Wal-Mart (daughter #1 had birthday money to spend) and Radio Shack, and Kroger's.  There must be somewhere we didn't go--I can't think of it now, my brains are fried.  It sounds like a lot of shopping, but I was very careful and I still have money left. :)  When you mostly buy staples, you can fill a cart pretty cheaply.  While we were at Wal-Mart, I checked the day-old bread, and the cheese and meat in case they were on sale.  I know what's cheapest to buy at which store.

I'm going to start watching for the price of meat to go down because of the drought.  Although it rained here again today (Yippee!).  In fact, it poured.  And it was windy while we were gone, but most of the trees are still intact--I think we've shaken out all the weaklings and dead branches now.  When the meat goes on sale, I think I'll buy as much as I can and stick it in the deep freeze for when the prices go up because of the drought.  You see, first people are supposed to start liquidating stock as fast as they can, and then there is supposed to be a shortage later on.  If there isn't, we'll still use the meat anyway.

I chatted with the cashier and stock person (both women) at one store, and we started talking about how bad the economy is.  My husband is a college grad with a part-time job.  There's a lot of that going around.  And then the cashier made an innocuous little comment about me staying home with the kids.  I decided not to get into hypogammaglobulinemia, let alone all the other challenges I face (I lost my gas station today, but I found it on the second attempt, and my father was surprised when we were discussing which restaurant to go to on my second daughter's birthday in a couple of weeks and I had no idea how to get to this place we've been to several times, and last night I couldn't identify the movie playing on TV because my family had the commentary on and I couldn't hear anything--you didn't think I could identify the movie when I can't recognize any of the scenery or faces, did you?).  Afterwards, though, I wondered if I should have at least mentioned the disease and how sick I get.  I think I just don't have the energy right now.

And....the Medicaid people are refusing to communicate with me.  I finally looked up the address of the local FSSA (Family & Social Services Administration) and made copies of everything that's been asked for and stuck it in the mailbox.  With a big ATTN: heading that included which form was in there and what it was for.  I doubt they'll get it in time.  When they cancel us I'll call that reporter.

I have really had it with these people.  In case you haven't been following this.

And then Verizon was going to shut off our phone and internet service (they like to be paid every month or so, imagine that!), so I had to ask my mother to pay our phone bill.  And she called them.  Five times.  To wade through the bureaucracy.  My mother is priceless.

I finally found the phone number to pay the bill on our printable bill online.  Our twenty-one page printable bill.  Seriously?  Who needs twenty-one pages for one bill?

On a cheerier note--you gotta love this:


That mother bear instinct never does fade, does it?  A woman's store is being robbed, and out comes her 80-year-old mother to chase the robbers off by pelting them with mangoes.

I think I'll fantasize about walking into the FSSA office with a bowl of mangoes.

And now I have things to do--non-perishable groceries and dishes from supper are everywhere.  At least I don't have to water my plants.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

:( S.N.A.F.U.--More Medicaid Fun

Today I finally got the list of documents Medicaid requires in order to not cancel my children's insurance--cancel as a punishment, apparently, for my husband's being in the National Guard.  We went for many years--twelve and a half--without experiencing this even once, until he started basic training in January of 2009.  Immediately (only three or four days after he left) we were cancelled.  It happened again a few days after he left for his two summer weeks in 2010, and again (you guessed it) a few days after he left for his three summer weeks in Germany in 2011.  And now it's happened just the same way again this year.

I've spoken in another blog post of that January in 2009, when I had to try to convince Medicaid that my husband was not working in Oklahoma (where basic training was) while he was also working here in Indiana (where his civilian job was on hold until he came back).

My husband said maybe it's an annual thing.  But he doesn't have his summer service even near the same date every summer, and the basic training was in January.

I'm picturing one government official saying to another that they think it would be a good idea to cancel children's health insurance whenever the weather turns warm.  That sounds about as senseless as, "How dare he join the military?  We'll show him!"

The Medicaid people obviously know immediately whenever my husband changes jobs.  And the Social Security Administration knows exactly how much we all make (unless they screw it up like they did for me a few years back).  A lot of us down here in the below-the-poverty-limit trenches have wildly varying incomes, so I'm not even sure that a month's worth of pay stubs is the best possible indicator.  Our tax return, perhaps, would be better.  But it doesn't matter to us, personally.  Not this year.  Well, not any year.  I suppose when he got his National Guard bonus--that would have really messed things up if we'd had to convince them we didn't get paid that much every month. 

We only have two pay stubs to show them, and the military one is for pay we haven't even received yet.  We're a long way from being cancelled because of our income.

I would also kindly (or perhaps not so very kindly at this point) suggest giving people a much more generous deadline period.  Or they could just get the information from Social Security or the IRS, thereby bypassing the need for all those pesky deadlines, and for all that additional paperwork, and for all those pesky pay stubs that must be processed.

But I'm no expert--maybe there are good reasons to immediately gather pay stubs whenever anyone is ordered to report for military duty.  Anyway, it doesn't matter what I think.

So I gathered the information Medicaid asked for, beginning with my address, which prompted my third child, who at eleven is already smarter than many government officials, to wonder aloud how the paperwork managed to arrive at our house if they don't have that particular piece of information.  I copied all our Tricare cards, which we couldn't use without the Medicaid to cover deductibles and co-pays, and the last 30 days' pay stubs (except for the stub for this last week, which, understandably, has not yet been processed).  I filled out a few blanks, and signed my name at the bottom.

So far, so good.


There is no return address.

Not on the envelope.  Not on the form.  I looked.  So did my husband.

I just want to state, publicly and for the record, that I would never in my wildest dreams walk into a government office and start shooting people.  Just sayin'.

I will, as of Monday, have only six day left before the paperwork must have arrived (by mail) at their office.  It has to be there by Saturday.  Possibly Friday--I can't imagine them giving me a break just because the office will be closed on Saturday.  And now I will have to waste some of that precious time begging as many government agencies as I can find for that address.  Maybe I'll get lucky and one of them will respond Monday, and then I can mail the paperwork on Tuesday.  So far my luck hasn't been anything like that.

Did I mention that it takes that office several days once they get the paperwork to process it so that they know they have it?  Let me be clear--my documents don't count as having arrived on the day they arrived, they count as having arrived after they've been processed.  Yes, really.

I wrote my congressman again today.  All I can do is complain.  Lawyers aren't for people like us.  Neither is being treated with respect.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Welcome to My Third World Island

Today's Picture of the Week (definitely not a Third World Island):

Another Bing picture--it's Gdansk, Poland.

Today, as part of my ongoing Social Security disability appeal, I received a several-page form from a lawyer I am scheduled to see next month.  I've started a binder into which I am putting all of the paperwork I have.

I copied everything before I sent it to SS, which is good, because, while I am supposed to be able to get a CD with my disability folder information on it, I haven't gotten it yet.  I've started trying to find out why it hasn't arrived.  I can't help but note that I only have 10 days from the date something is mailed to respond to any request of theirs.  In my last communication today I informed them that I have an appointment with a lawyer and that the lawyer would like this information.

I have to send them a medical release form.  They will not accept the medical release form without a cover sheet.  Fortunately I was able to print that out also.  The cover sheet is to tell them that they are getting a medical release form.  Seriously.

While this is going on, I've started fighting with Medicaid.  Yesterday I emailed and emailed, explaining that we have spotty phone service in our rural area.  A nice woman whose emails state at the bottom that she is bilingual tried to help me by email.  I'm not at all sure that English is one of the two languages with which she is fluent.  It doesn't matter anyway--once they got my identification information, they stopped all contact.  Really.  I sent them a cranky email today.  Something I just about never do.  No response.  Wow.

I can't find out whether or not my children have been cancelled.  This could be important if someone gets hurt or sick--we could find ourselves with thousands of dollars worth of medical bills that we can't pay.

Meanwhile, I've also been chatting with another CVID patient who was helping me look for resources.  It looks like I've already looked everywhere.  I just don't qualify for help from anybody.  There is always a reason.  It's in another city (or state).  I haven't proven that I'm disabled.  It costs money.  I've applied to programs and just been completely ignored.  I've recently reapplied.  Patient Assistance, ACCESS, etc.

This woman made a comment about United States citizens dying because they can't get antibiotics.

I didn't realize that my island is in a third world country.  If it weren't for my family, we'd be hungry, and quite possibly homeless by now.  And there would be no lawyer.  I would have given up completely by now.  I would quite likely never have applied to Social Security again.

On the brighter side, we got three torrential downpours in two days.  They're saying the drought isn't over, but this has certainly been a step in the right direction.  Maybe the soybeans surrounding us will survive.  The farmer who rents our land would be happy to see that.  His corn may be toast now, but a lot of soybeans might not make it either, and the ones that do will sell for a good price.  And any corn that does have ears--the rain will help make them good ears.  I don't think the corn near us has many ears, though.  I've seen only a very few fields that look at all healthy.

Nothing else happening here.  I've been playing something different--music from the 30's, 40's, through the 70's, Broadway stuff, etc.--it's good once in a while.  I've started improvising just a bit.

I remember when I was in high school, taking beginning piano lessons.  I had a second teacher, after the first (a very nice lady) said she couldn't teach me anymore after a very short time.  I remember saying something to teacher number two about how I didn't like the way a certain piece of music sounded, and that it would sound better in such a way.  I don't remember which piece it was.  But I learned something that day--that you don't change the music.  Teaching myself has taught me something else--you don't always listen to teachers. 

Now I wonder--I was just starting out--this wasn't a piece of classically great music--at most it was a simplified version of something.  Maybe I was right--maybe I could have improved it.  Maybe that way of thinking should have been encouraged, while it was being explained to me that we generally adhere precisely to classical music.

Those lessons were very haphazard.  Oh well, I like teaching myself anyway.  There are a lot of modern composers whose music I can't stand, and I can just ignore them.  If something interests me I can obsess about it to no end.  If I for some reason don't get something, I can just keep trying at my own pace without having to worry about it.  If I've already got it, I can move on.  And I can play any piece I want, even if it's too hard--those are always my favorites.

Time to go finish my binder now.  Bye.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If You Need Me, I'll Just Be Under the Table

This is what it's often like around here.  I get up a bit early so I can get a jump on everything.  I'm dressed, hair's fixed, a few chores are done, and I've had breakfast.  Child number one has been doing school for a while, children two and three are sitting at opposite ends of the dining room table (so they can't reach each other lol), and child number four is getting ready to start soon.  I am printing worksheets.  Today it's English and spelling.  I have out the binders and paper and a three-hole punch.  And I've started the paperwork online for my Social Security appeal.  Probably shoulda waited on that.  So I'm grading, and answering questions, and printing, and collating, and filling out forms online, oh, and overseeing one of the girls doing their morning chores and trying to keep most of the stuff picked up everywhere.  I want to get all this done because later I have to drive two of the girls to their friends' house, and at ten I usually call my mother.

So don't say I never do anything around here.  Just about the time the paper jams in the printer and three people need something graded all at the same time, the phone starts beeping at me and I have to get online and open up our bank statement, and then the mail comes and there's something else to fill out.  Now the dining room table looks like a file cabinet threw up on it.  So, if you would, please hand a tissue under the table, and ignore the whimpering.  My breakdown will be over in a few minutes, and then I'll be back to work.

And we had even more fun this afternoon.  It got darker and darker, and then all the dead leaves on the trees started flying everywhere, and then black clouds were making several swirly circle above the house.  It looked just like Van Gogh's  Starry Night, except Starry Night doesn't usually inspire frantic prayer on my part.  Well, we're all fine here--somehow we just lost one tree limb.  It took me a while to figure out where it came from--it didn't just land under the tree.  Maybe it was the prayer.  It was as if God was saying with the tree limb, 'See, this is what I could have done.'

Then we came back home from dropping off the girls. (Picture me getting out of the car, looking around the yard, looking up at the sky, and saying in a loud voice, "I just cleaned this".)  By this time I was ready for a break.  But our lights were out.  And the phone wasn't working.  The internet wasn't working well, either, but I managed to contact the power company.  And pretty soon the lights were back on.  And now here I am happily parked in front of my computer where I belong.

We had a LOT of rain, too, which was nice for a change, although it won't fix the drought.  My youngest asked why rain was coming from the sky instead of a hose. lol

I have all the evening chores done now.  The table is all cleared off.  I think I'll go play a little piano--it'll be bedtime soon.  Sometimes all I can do is get in a few minutes here and there.  Tomorrow we'll have another busy day--going to pick up the girls and then go to a carnival with my parents.  Wish me luck again--I have no idea where the carnival is.  But I did find the girls' friends' house. :)  First try.  You know, it only takes a half-hour to get there if you don't get lost.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'd Like Fries With That, Dr. Moore !

Today I had to call my parents to ask for money.  It's frustrating--my husband hasn't been paid lately, and now he's doing his three-week summer stint with the National Guard and they take a while to process the paychecks.  He's coming home this weekend, and he's going to need money for gas.

There just isn't any way to save money when all you do is stay home and not spend any.  My kids have been complaining these last couple of days about not having things to do, such as sports or clubs, like the other kids.  But we can't afford those things.  It could be worse--we have a home, and groceries.  All I can tell them is that there isn't anything I can do, and that I can't go anywhere either.

I wish there was something I could do, so that one income would stretch further.  But there isn't, and we all just have to accept that this is the way it is.

We had our first day of school today.  Maybe this will keep us all busier.  I've started a couple of weeks early, mostly because of the heat--it's 96 today, and it's supposed to be 99 tomorrow.   It's just too hot to go outside. 

My 16yo is taking geometry, English, chemistry, government, and Spanish.  The 12yo is taking math, English, history, and spelling (she could use some extra work on this, although I've seen real progress on her handwriting).  The 11yo twins are taking math, English, and spelling, and some handwriting, social studies, and science.

Today went well.  I got up at six and got busy--got myself together, did a few chores, got breakfast, and started printing some worksheets.  I'd already done some preparation yesterday--I got out all the textbooks and school supplies and set them up all over our long dining room table.  One child works upstairs, one works in the family room (behind a set of glass doors that keeps my piano playing out of the room where the TV is), and the twins work at either end of the dining table.

The 12yo starts school at eight (I let them have some say in where and when and even what they study).  At nine the twins start, and at 10 the 16yo starts.  I stagger their chores--it's easier on all of us.  I try to sneak some piano playing into the day, between grading and answering questions and housework.  More piano after school.  And I'm studying a little more Spanish--I'd like to be able to work with the girls, who might all take Spanish, unless somebody wants to take something else.

Right now it's after dinner.  We're watching a movie about Temple Grandin.  Then I'll be back at the piano.

I've been studying piano, as my three loyal readers are no doubt well aware.  Right now I'm studying Kabbalah, and I've just started up Spanish again as well.

I asked myself a dangerous question today--why am I always studying something?  One reason is simple--I just like doing it.  But the other reason....

I was told in high school that if I got a diploma I'd be able to get a job.  After I school I kept studying--typing and shorthand mostly, and grammar and spelling--because I wanted to be able to get a job.  I did very well in typing class, so I thought I'd be a secretary.  But they didn't tell me in high school that I'd need a degree from a business college--they hadn't kept up with the times and didn't know that high school was not going to be enough.  Employers wanted me to be acquainted with word processing software, and I'd never been exposed to it.

Then I was told that if I went to college I'd be able to get a job.  After that didn't work, and I found names for what was wrong with me, I thought that if I learned enough about what was wrong with my brain, I'd be able to try really hard and compensate, if I just studied hard enough.

It's a habit now.  Sometime I think I'm still trying to get a job.  I'm trying to get ahead.  I bought what everybody said--that education is a gateway to a better life.  Partly these days it's just something to do.  I have to be doing something.

And now I see my husband working part-time, with his college degree.  There are a lot of unemployed college graduates out there right now.  I've been advising my daughters to go to college.  Sometimes I wonder if that's good advice any more.  Should I tell them to get a master's degree, because a bachelor's just isn't good enough any more?  Maybe a doctorate?  When does this stop?

Will my grandchildren have to have doctorates to get jobs at Wal-Mart?

Movie's over now--time to play the piano.  'Night.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sure Has Been Quiet Around Here

Well, I haven't been lost since Wednesday. :)  Maybe this coming week--we're supposed to go to a carnival.  In a park.  I have no idea where the park is.  No, really, I don't.

We've had a bit of rain here.  But it's too late for the corn.  It's almost too late for the soybeans, including those right around my island.  Tomorrow it's back to the really hot weather.  High nineties by Tuesday.  It's too hot for the kids to want to play outside.

So we're starting school tomorrow!  We've got all the books and everything.  We can always take days off when the weather's more hospitable.  We have to get in 180 days, from July 1 to June 30, every year, in this state.  We do a lot of Saturdays, and smaller holidays.  Then we can afford to take days off when there's a carnival to go to, or when my sister comes to town, or when the kids get sick.  And when I get sick.

One girl will be in tenth grade this year, one in eighth, and two in sixth.  The older two are old enough to pretty much teach themselves in a crisis.  The younger two should be old enough one of these days soon.  All they need is occasional help and some grading, and of course me providing the organization--choosing the classes (with their help), purchasing curricula and supplies, and just making sure we all get up and get moving in the morning.

I was pleased to see that I can now walk several blocks in the heat.  I'd been having a lot of trouble with a strange lack of stamina since I was so sick this winter.  I've always been the last person to get tired if I'm walking with any group, so this was especially worrisome.  Maybe I'm just getting too old to get that sick and bounce right back.  It's just been the last few weeks that I can walk a few blocks.  I can take a trash dumpster down to the road now.

We've just had a major solar flare this weekend.  Nothing to worry about, but we've just had a day-and-a-half of dead silence outside.  The birds have just started singing again this morning.  This has happened before, but not for so long.

Nothing else happening here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tennis Court? What Tennis Court?

Who Has Your Ear?


"Sick with an illness great portions of society either don't believe exists or refuse to comprehend the severity of incapacitation, we can get lots of negativity shooting our way. Doubt, criticism, dismissal, or worse, speculations of insanity."

Sometimes Leah Tyler gets it just right.

If you ask people with disabilities, or people with children with disabilities, they'll tell you it's not the disability itself that causes the most pain, or even the financial repercussions.  It's the spiritual warfare, and the soldiers you do battle with are the comments and attitudes from family and friends and doctors and acquaintances.  You're lazy, you're not really sick, you look fine, you choose to be sick, you should take vitamins/take supplements/eat organic/become a vegan, you should exercise more, you need to get a job, you need to manage your money better, you need to try harder, pay attention, you're not that stupid, hurry up, you're too cheerful to really be sick, you complain too much, you're a liar, you're depressed, what you need is more self-confidence....

I've never not been disabled, so I don't know what that's like, but I imagine 'normal' people (there must be a few somewhere) struggle with negativity, too.  It's everywhere.  It's an epidemic.

In one week....

I've made people mad because I couldn't park quickly enough, or straight enough.  I didn't know I couldn't go to the downtown library in the summer because the parking garage is more crowded and I can't park in just one space--I need two or three.  Now I know--it's either go to a parking garage further away and walk (in this heat with four kids), or go to a branch library until school starts up again.

I've made strangers (at least, I think they were strangers) mad by not hearing them, and by not moving fast enough in stores because it's only the hundredth time I've been there and I can't find things that I buy all the time.  And how many people did I meet this week and fail to recognize?  Did anybody try to talk to me, but I didn't hear it?  I'll never know.  (It's an odd, unsettling moment when you find out you have prosopagnosia and you're out in public and you realize that anybody you can see might be anybody you know.  After a while you just sorta get used to it.)

I've also heard from the government--that we're lying, we're trying to cheat the system.  Again.

I've heard from people close to me that I could basically do things if I tried, as if I was just being difficult.  Something broke and there was no way I was going to figure out how to fix it--I didn't even know what the part that needed replacing was called, or what it looked like.  Actually, you could show it to me now and tomorrow I might not recognize it.  The best I could do is describe it to myself in words and try to remember the description.  (Once my husband was showing me something, and he started describing it as he was showing me, and then asked me if I was going to actually look at it.  I think it was a bit of an epiphany for him when I told him that I was busy memorizing what he was saying.)

I got to a point a couple of days ago where I announced to my family that I'm tired of explaining when I can't do something--like hearing something somebody said the first time (stupid window AC background noise grumble), or figuring out how to work something mechanical as fast as everybody else with their average visual skills.  They've heard it before, they know this already.  Explaining myself (most of the time, anyway, to people who already know) is a bad habit I seriously need to break.

Yesterday I got to try to explain to someone else for the hundredth time that I still can't find my way around in a car and that they should just pretend I've never been to the city I grew up in before. (I should know there's a tennis court there?  Why have I never noticed the tennis court?  Where was my brain when I was driving past the tennis court all those times?)

This morning I woke up, got online, checked out my CVID group, and discovered someone saying that people who don't follow their regimen of diet and supplements are choosing to be sick.  Other people are fighting that battle.  I've fought other ones, and I will again, but I don't let things strangers say online bother me too much.

Wednesday I dropped two of my kids off at a friend's house.  I got lost.  Again.  Not too badly.  We finally found it.  We were kind of laughing about it, which is good.  But that was the third time I've driven there.  Yep, I got lost the other two times, too.  In case you were wondering.  I have to pick them up again today.  Will I get lost again?  Then I have to follow somebody tonight while they show me where something is so we can meet there tomorrow.  Will I get lost following them and wander around, unable to tell them by phone where I am, unable to talk about any landmarks in that part of town because it's an unfamiliar no-man's land for me?  Will I get lost tomorrow morning even though I've been shown where it's at?  Will they get mad?

I try not to worry.  None of this is tragic.  Hey, at least I'm doing well physically.  I can breathe.  But it's like this pretty much every. single. week.  This is my normal. 

It used to be worse.  I didn't know what most of the problems were myself, I only knew that I had to keep anybody else from finding out so they wouldn't get mad.  There is a fine line between trying to function as well as possible, and trying to function well enough to keep people from getting mad.  That's another territory I sometimes get turned around and lost in, even though I've been living here all my life and you'd think I'd know my way around by now....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

:( Here We Go Again--Will My Children's Medicaid Get Cancelled?

Today I got a letter from Medicaid stating that I should be getting information on the date and time of a phone interview, and/or a list of documentation I have to send them.  The letter admonished me to be quick about sending the paperwork.

Yes, I am quite familiar with their deadlines.  They have to receive the paperwork--so much of it that I have to use a big manila envelope--within 10 days of the date they put the request in the mail.  Most of the paperwork will probably be stuff they've already gotten from us every year for the past several years--all our social security numbers, birth certificates, drivers' licenses--as if our identities have changed.  Shouldn't they have all this in a file by now?  Some of the paperwork they ask for will be last year's tax forms, and paycheck stubs, which makes more sense.

They do this to us every time my husband goes away on guard duty.  Every year they immediately find out (he just left four days ago for a three-week stint) when he has his summer two-three weeks.  This is how the National Guard works--a weekend every month, and two-three weeks during the summer.  Nobody at the medicaid office understands this, even though they are constantly gathering people's employment information. 

I spoke to my mother today, and she has somehow decided that the people who work for medicaid must not be very bright if they don't already know these things. 

Who am I to argue with my mother?

Last year I tried being proactive--I called medicaid before my husband left and explained the situation.  That did no good whatsoever.

I keep copies of everything here--even my husband's driver's license, which is good, because it's with him right now.  I may have to ask his boss for some kind of a statement of what my husband has earned this year, because he's working for a one-man business, and we don't have much paperwork from him.

If medicaid doesn't get all their precious paperwork in that 10-day period, they will cancel my children's insurance.  Again.  And it takes them several days from the time they receive it to know that they have it.  In the past I've sent the paperwork on the day of a phone interview, before they even mailed the official request for paperwork.  But that's not fast enough.

They'd like me to go to their office in person.  But I have no idea how to get there.  It's in a completely unknown part of town--a no-man's land for me.  I've tried to tell them about topographical agnosia, but they don't believe me.  My husband's not even here to drive me to the office.

I may very well have to reapply to medicaid over and over again.  Last year I was actually speaking to a reporter when I got the kids back on their roll.  If I get cancelled, I guess I'll give him another call.

I have one child who just chipped a tooth, and now I'm going to have to put off her dental appointment until I can be certain we have insurance.  (See http://www.debsisland.blogspot.com/2012/05/its-important-to-floss.html )

And, in case you haven't had experience with having to seek government assistance, in case you think I'm being picked on--this kind of thing happens to other people all the time.  Your tax dollars at work.  I'm going to assume that most of you are kind-hearted people who wouldn't want a child to have to go without dental care.  But I'd be willing to bet you don't want to have to pay for some office to process documents over and over again unnecessarily.  I'd even bet that you'd be willing to give people fifteen, or even (gasp) twenty days to collect and send paperwork and get it processed at its destination.

This reminds me--sort of whole other topic here--this winter I got a phone call from medicaid, stating that I had a phone interview right that minute.  This was very inconvenient, because I was getting ready to go pick up my children from a friend's house, and I was very sick.  In fact, the phone interview resulted in my not having time to take my medications, which may have contributed to yet another downward spiral in my health, not to mention my driving during a serious asthma attack.  Bad luck on my part--I was home almost all day every day this winter being sick.  But not that day, and I was told that if I did not answer their questions immediately, my children's insurance would be cancelled.

I was a bit concerned by the content of the questions, which I had to answer--any substance abuse in the home, anybody pregnant, any of our daughters sexually active, any domestic violence, suicidal thoughts, depression (besides, I assumed, when dealing with medicaid)........I wouldn't have minded being asked if I would like help with any of those things; I just didn't like being required to answer their questions.  If it had been any worse, I might have refused to answer.  I've refused to answer questions in ERs and doctors' offices in the past ("If I did have any guns at home, they would be securely locked up." "Why do you need to know if we have a large dog?")  I suppose I'm a bit touchier than average when it comes to my privacy.

Seriously, I'm pretty harmless--I'm more of a stop-the-kid-from-squishing-that-spider-I'll-get-a-jar-and-put-it-outside type.  But when I'm here by myself with the children and my husband's at work, or gone for three weeks, and there's nobody close enough to hear us scream--those dogs are nice to have.

And no, nobody's pregnant here, and we're not abusing substances, although some days I can see why people would.  I can see how people could repeatedly experience the hopelessness of poverty and the humiliation of being treated like low-lifes by government officials and sink into despair.

Anyway, I don't want to be forced to tell the government personal information, paranoid woman that I am.  Maybe it's also partly because I feel that I've got my act together sufficiently that it's insulting that people would assume that we might be doing drugs and leaving loaded guns lying around, and that we're not smart enough to run out own lives, just because we don't have any money.  We're not that kind of poor.

And I firmly believe that my mental health (assuming I'm not running down the street naked or something) is my own business.  I don't have any problem reaching out for help, but I don't want the government forcing their help on me.  Especially when they've failed me so badly so many times.  If I do get into trouble, I think I'll reach out to somebody I can trust.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The "Island of Genius" (Autism & Prodigies)

Have I mentioned it's hot and dry?  Well, it's not quite so hot now but it's getting drier.  The littler trees are starting to drop their leaves.  There's a lot of yellow out there.  We're still leaving water out for the birds and animals, and watering a few very small/rare/important plants.

Here's an interesting article:

Apparently (and some of us have known this for many years) people who are prodigies are often born into families that have autism running through them, and even have autistic tendencies themselves.  I especially liked a quote that was included in the article, by Darold A. Treffert, who "poetically describes the savant mind as an "island of genius" lapped by waves of disability).

The author, Katy Waldman, stated:

"The prodigies were also given the most recent version of the Stanford-Binet IQ test. Not all of them cracked the genius threshold—some of the overall scores were pretty average—but the subtest scores were distinctive."

In all modesty (I have yet to prove that I am a 'prodigy'), this describes me pretty well.  An island in the middle of disability.

And what is our society doing to preserve these 'islands'?  We could be finding ways to educate these people to the best of their potential, we could be taking advantage of their talents to improve life on planet Earth, instead of throwing so many of them away in the trash.

Surely we can do better.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

More Pictures--George Takei :)

I've been enjoying Mr. Takei's (if you don't recognize the name, you should be ashamed of yourself--he played Mr. Sulu in the original Trek series) facebook site.  His site is here:


Here are a few samples:

If you're a good Trekkie, you'll get the first one:

Don't be mad, I actually lean a little toward the right, but still....

Gotta love trigonometric humor:

OK, well, if you see this one on his site, it's funny--can't get it to load properly.

If I ever change my facebook pic, this should be the new one:

Disclaimer:  Some of the pictures may be inappropriate for youngsters. :)

Nothing much happening here.  It's hot.  And dry.  I'm playing Fugue No. 10.


Friday, July 6, 2012

It's a Wonderful Fugue--I Just Love the Colors (Synesthesia)

It is so hot outside.  I went out one last time, all the way to the barnyard, to give the animals our leftovers, feed our stray cat (if he's still around--who knows what else I might be feeding), and refill the water.  I've dumped water on a few plants, and every time we have spare water in the house, I take it outside and dump it on something.  We're starting to be afraid that at some point our well might run dry, so no more hose.  I'm still filling the birdbath and a couple of containers of water for the animals.

It's so hot, as soon as I went outside, I'd swear my eyelids started to sweat.  The window air conditioner downstairs can't keep up.  We have two upstairs.  I hate to think of what it's like for the people who still don't have power.

There was another storm in Fort Wayne last night.  They just about had all of the traffic lights fixed, and now there are several of them out again, and at least 40 trees down, and another 10,000 without power--there were still a few thousand left without power from last week when it hit.  And they think lightning hit a store in the small town nearby--it burned to the ground.  It's just been quite a week around here.

It's uncomfortable just playing the piano or doing housework right now.  I've learned over the last few weeks to take breaks.  Even though I'm well.  Tonight is one long break.  There isn't any wind at all outside.  I've been picking up lots of sticks out there.  Last night I spent another half-hour or so picking up larger pieces of tree.  I was happy to find one of my favorite little trees back in the woods, untouched, in the middle of the wreckage.  We were lucky to hardly lose any of our smaller trees, with those two big ones and the top halves and limbs falling everywhere.

I'm still obsessed with Johannes.  I found a wonderful analysis of Fugue No. 10--it's at the bottom of the candy jar at the right.  I am improving, at least a little.  Maybe one day I'll be able to actually play it.  It's a masochistic little fling I'm having with this piece.

Oh, there's something I haven't mentioned on this blog yet:  I have synesthesia.  Don't worry, it's not contagious. lol  Sometimes I see colors that go along with music.  Fugue No. 10 is green and orange and yellow/tan and kind of shiny.  I know it sounds weird, but it's not as uncommon as you might think.  Some people see letters or numbers as each having their own color, for example.  There are dozens of known forms of synesthesia.  I know one person close to me who sees numbers as each having their own personality--a not-too-uncommon form which somehow sounded far stranger to me than my own.  You can look up synesthesia online, and even take a test for it on the net, and I recommend one interesting book I've read about autism--'Born on a Blue Day', by Daniel Tammet, in which he describes his synesthesia.  He's also face blind.  That book may resemble the brochure that they should have handed my parents in the hospital when I was born.

Some people think it's a mild form of synesthesia when someone says something about a cheese tasting 'sharp', or a mint tasting 'cold'.  Mine isn't bothersome.  But some people are bothered by this.  Some people can feel pain when another person is in pain, or see such vivid shapes when they hear sounds that it's impossible to walk down a noisy street.  In fact, I often don't notice mine at all.  It's often kind of like an odd smell that you almost can't smell at all.  I almost don't see the color as much as 'notice' it.  Does that make any sense?  Probably not.  Try explaining to a deaf person what a bird sounds like.

I didn't notice it at all until I'd been seriously studying piano for a year or so.  Certain keys have certain colors.  Bach's fugue is green and orange because there are a lot of B's and D's in it.  Seventh chords tend to come across as 'shiny'.  This was fun a few years ago when I discovered that seventh chords can be 'hidden' and I'd have to stop and try to find out where the 'shininess' was coming from.  Chopin does fascinating things with seventh chords.

This is something that statistically sometimes goes along with autism.  I was surprised to discover I had it--kind of like finding a room in the house that has been there all along, but I'd never noticed it before.  I've wondered if it has anything to do with my migraines, which didn't start until I was in my twenties and have gotten worse these last few years (although magnesium tablets have helped enormously--doctors are starting to recommend them to migraineurs).  Sometimes a migraine will affect what I see, changing it or making it more intense.

Yes, I've been known to utter things around the house like, 'This song is really blue tonight, I wonder if I'm going to wake up with a migraine in the morning.'  Oh well, I'm sure I've said stranger things.

Anyway, I've done some more work on the second movement of my sonata.  It's coming along.  I scribbled all over the sheet music page I'd started with, and then I had to decode it onto more sheet music before I forgot what I'd meant.  I have my own secret shorthand.  It just happened, years ago.

I like lots of different colored ink pens.  This suits my weirdness well.  And if I write with a pen that doesn't match the song I'm composing, it irritates me.  I've been known to get up in the morning with a piece of music going through my head, and automatically grab the proper pen that goes with the song before I start writing it down.

Back to the heat wave....My daughters have hardly been able to play outside all summer.  It's been so uncomfortable outside.  And we haven't had any money, so we've mostly just stayed home.  At least we have power.  It could be worse--we could be stuck at home with no TV, no internet, no air conditioning.  We were lucky to only have to go 24 hours with lights--just long enough to appreciate what we have.  Tomorrow the high is supposed to be 106, and then Sunday 86.  I hope we don't have a storm like last week in between.

If for some reason you don't hear from me for a week, that might be the reason.  I hope not.

We're sitting here watching the old "Journey to the Center of the Earth".  It's just too hot to do much else if it isn't necessary.  Late tomorrow night my eldest daughter will be returning from her trip.  This is the longest and farthest we've ever been apart.  I've missed her, but the time has passed quickly.

Nothing else happening here--I'm going to go surf the net now.  Good night!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Doh !

I'm still having problems with my geekishness, but I think (fingers crossed) that I've fixed the links to the audio and sheet music files on the right.  Hopefully.  Again.  I so badly want to be a geek.

It's hot here.  I can't complain much--at least we have power.

I've developed an obsession (I'd estimate it'll probably last about a week).  I play Bach's Fugue no. 10.  I play something else.  Back to Fugue no. 10.  Something else.  I can't help myself.  I hear it all day long in my head.  I hear it when I wake up.  It may have been playing while I was still asleep.  It's playing right now while I type.

I can't play it for sh**.  I generally don't get Bach.  But that doesn't matter.  At this rate sheer stubbornness will win eventually.

I can't imagine ever feeling about Bach the same way I feel about Chopin.  This is just a fling.  (Oh, Johannes!)  I always come back to my dear Frederik.  I sometimes visit with Ludwig (my first love), and lately I have a standing date with Franz.  Occasionally I see the other Franz.  And from time to time others, too numerous to mention here.

Anyway................I've been moving lots of pieces of trees, some way taller than me, some shorter than my forearm.  Someday I will have my little woods back again.  Not to mention my yard.  Every time I go outside I pick up a few more sticks.  I'm eating that elephant one bite at a time.  I guess it's a lot like that Fugue.

That's is why I'm just sitting here--I had sweat pouring off me when I got carried away and moved a few big hunks of tree.  It's still 90-something out there.

And I got a response to my second email to the Stupid Security Administration--as per their instructions, I have written a letter to my local office requesting my records and stating why I can't be there in person.  I knew it--I knew if I just wrote to a different person, I'd get a different answer.  If the local office won't give me my records, I'll just write to the next-nearest one.  I'm stubborn, I am.  Just ask Johannes.

I have to go make sure the animals have water & the cat has food & take out our leftovers and let the dog out one last time.  It's starting to get dark.  Good night all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"There's a Bomb in That Crate!"

It's official.  Our local Fourth of July celebration has been cancelled.  It's just too dry, and our nearby small town is a long way from back to normal after the storm.  They're saying that some people in our county might be in the dark through this weekend.  And the weather forecast says 97 today, 98 tomorrow, and 101 Thursday.  Who wants to walk around outside in heat like that, anyway.

It's too hot to exercise, but the yard work is more punishing than my exercise program anyway.

We're going to be declared a federal disaster area.  Not just the interior of my house--I mean the whole county. ;)  They're saying now that what we experienced was indeed very much like an inland hurricane.  You heard it here first.

Yesterday morning one of our dogs trapped himself in the open center of a huge pile of brush and a downed tree.  My husband had to go in, lift the dog onto a tree trunk, and climb out while I held the dog until he could get there.  He'd just kept barking until I'd gone after him, one short bark at a time, which is apparently dogspeak for, 'It's not Timmy that's in trouble, it's me'.

I've predicted that people are going to be stupid and burn their brush during this drought and start fires.  So far I haven't heard anything yet.  Usually I don't go very far wrong predicting that people will be stupid.  I wonder how many fires will be started by fireworks this week.  Hopefully I'm mistaken.  Last week three house burned because of fireworks--the fire spread from one house to the next.  Hopefully people learned their lesson from that.

We were lucky--our house and all our buildings are fine after the hurricane.  Many people still don't have air conditioning and refrigeration.  Sunday I put a bunch of things in the deep freeze, because that would last the longest if the lights went back out.  Most of our trees and limbs fell where they would do the least damage.  The big wooden swing set my father bought a couple of years ago and helped build was narrowly missed by a huge limb.  Unfortunately, the swing set is in the sun now. :(  C'est la vie.

Next time I'm home alone I might try to record my second mazurka.  I'll post the sheet music when I do.  I've almost memorized it.  I might put the finishing touches on my waltz and post the sheet music for that as well.  Have to start memorizing that soon.  Memorizing is difficult for me--I'm still wondering if it's this difficult for everybody or if it's worse for me.

My sister is trying to help me appeal the Social Security decision.  I've been looking online--I was told by the SSA that I have to get my records in person, but several sources online say otherwise, so I've emailed them again.  It wouldn't be their first mistake, after all.

James Bond is 50 years old. This is great--James Bond movies on somewhere 24/7.  If there was a decent Sci-Fi channel, life would be almost perfect. lol

And here's today's Picture of the Day, which has the honor of being my new desktop pic:

I just like it because it reminds me that there's water somewhere. :)


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The June 29, 2012 Storm : Hurricane Roseanne

No people or animals were harmed in the making of this film.  Just trees.

The day after it hit 104, we had a powerful storm here.  We weren't selfish--after we were done with it, we shared it with quite a few other people.

For us, it started Friday morning, when my girls were watching an old 'Roseanne' episode on TV.  It was about a tornado, and I stopped and watched (I've always been kinda intrigued by tornadoes).  It was a little scary, so I told the girls that there was nothing to worry about--it's not even the right time of the year for tornadoes.  It wasn't even supposed to rain in the foreseeable future.

By lunchtime we were aware of the weather over in Illinois, but we didn't think much of it.  As time went on, a thunderstorm watch was declared.  I went on with my usual house cleaning and piano playing.  It got a little dark, and the radar showed the rain approaching, so I briefly went outside and made sure everything was secured.  Then I went inside to play Chopin's op. 50 no. 3--I'm memorizing it. (There, I mentioned piano, I hope my sister will be happy.)  I got to about the third page when suddenly each dog barked once and the wind picked up.  I went out on the front porch, and everything was moving.  The whole air was moving, mixed with large tree branches.  You have to think of Schubert's 'Happy Farmer' while you're reading this.  The next thing I knew I was yelling, "Everybody get in the bathroom NOW!!!"

Suddenly there were five people and two large dogs (and my phone & laptop--well, they were on the way) in our tiny little bathroom.  And the lights went out.  The only light was my cell phone.

We were in there for maybe 15 minutes, during which I called my mother (who lives twenty miles from here) who said there was nothing to worry about--they weren't expecting any tornadoes.  It got slightly better outside, so I ventured to look out, leaving everybody else in the bathroom.  It was one of those very rare times when it was not a good idea to listen to my mother.  Just as I was checking my laptop, a tornado warning was declared.

We'd had 91 mph winds.  You know, that's the high end of a category 1 hurricane.  I think this storm should have a name.  How about Hurricane Roseanne?

This is the worst I've ever seen.  We were fortunate--our woody island sheltered our house and the trees in our front yard.  We did lose two trees, a few half-trees, and a few limbs--all on the north and west sides of the island.  I was not happy to see that.  And there are sticks and leaves everywhere.  I don't know when we will ever get it all cleaned up.  We haven't even been able to run the chainsaw since Friday night because it's so dry out it's a fire hazard.  But we're lucky--our lights are back on, after only 24 hours.  They say many people will wait until Wednesday.  And it's hot.  And the stores that are still open are running out of things.

My sister, in Washington D.C., lost the big tree in her front yard.  From the same storm.

Early Friday morning one of my cats, who is usually a sweetheart except for mornings (I've heard of people not being morning people--this is the first of many cats I've met who meets that description), curled up right by my head and refused to leave, even when I petted him.  It was too hot and stuffy to sleep.  I didn't realize that he was trying to tell me another storm was coming--he's done this before with especially bad storms.  Friday's storm must have put him on high alert.  Saturday morning it rained and thundered for a long, long time.

Our oldest daughter left for her mission trip very early Saturday morning.  She may very well not have lights where she is now.  After she left, I didn't bother trying to go back to bed.  But it was incredibly boring in the dark--it's hard to read by candlelight.

The small town nearby is practically closed.  They have a great fireworks show, but if the drought doesn't cancel the Fourth of July festivities, the lack of electricity might.  And the heat won't help.  Fort Wayne, where my mother lives, was in the national news.  They got hit hard.  Everywhere we've been, it's one street light on, next street light off.  Half of the businesses are closed.  Trees are down all over.  We went to Decatur to get dinner Friday night.  It was the same there.  We had plans with my parents Saturday.  We saw New Haven and Woodburn Saturday night--same there.  The standard question you now ask everybody you meet is 'do you have lights?'.

We got lucky--someone we knew in Woodburn knew someone who knew food at a store was going to be thrown out due to lack of refrigeration, and we got a nice pile of lunch meats for our deep freeze and a lot of cheese.  I'd been worrying that we were going to lose everything in our refrigerator, freezer, and deep freeze, but we wound up with more food than we had when we started instead.

When we went to see my parents, we had a 'plugging in' party--we took over all their outlets with cell phones, laptops, and our internet device.  We also filled up all the water bottles we'd used so far.

We were extremely (and noisily) pleased when we got home--I was the first one to spot our porch light on.  We had won the air conditioning lottery.

But we'd done well--we'd had water bottles, food, pet food, candles, matches, flashlights, batteries--you name it.  Foam plates, red solo cups, and plastic cutlery are nice, too.  And now we'll have an awful lot of firewood and kindling for our wood stove this winter--we already had quite a stockpile.  And we'd had all the housework done when it hit, so the pets had full water buckets and the laundry and dishes were done.  I did miss my internet, but I have a lot of books I've been meaning to read.

Conclusion 1:  You really never know when you'll get hit by a catastrophe with no warning.  Being prepared made it a lot less uncomfortable.  Most people don't like to think about the lights going out, but we were able to take it pretty much in stride because we knew we had what we needed at home.

Conclusion 2:  Refrigeration and air conditioning are really nice when it's 90+ degrees.

Good night!