Wednesday, January 29, 2014


This is my husband's favorite outside plant container. Well, maybe he likes his strawberry pot just a bit more. Every year he takes a long while to find just the right plant for Froggy–and sometimes he never finds one. It must have been pretty late in the season when he found last year's plant, because it was still vibrant when we were putting all the pots away for the season, so I brought Froggy inside for the winter. I don't know what the plant is, but it now resembles the fuzzy mullet of an aging rock star. Somehow Froggy's foot/leg/arm got broken, which makes watering a problem, but he looks happy perching over my kitchen sink, in spite of all the snow outside.

So when Spring comes—and it will come—Froggy will once again perch on the picnic table watching us eat hamburgers and potato salad. I can't wait.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How long, O Lord?

As predicted, the National Weather Service has placed all of SE lower Michigan under a Wind Chill Watch from tomorrow afternoon through Wednesday. Wind chills as low as -40F will be possible. Most other areas of the state will be placed under a watch/warning this evening. As always, we'll have the latest updates

What more is there to say? My daughter posted the warning above on Facebook with the injunction that people, namely her father and I, should stay indoors. You'd better believe it. I could use a run to the grocery store, but I can hold out for a few days. Everyone loves potato soup, right? I hate to think of the little kids on their way to school, so I am hoping the schools will be closed.

There is certainly plenty to keep me busy. Lots of letters to write and if at one time I felt guilty for sending so much mail via e-mail, I no longer feel that way as I am to be faced with a 3 cent "temporary" raise in the cost of first class postage. So every letter I can send on-line, I will. Christmas letters deserve a reply more gracious than the news I sent in our Christmas letter and all of a sudden the Department of Classics at Bedford College, London, Class of 1962 has taken to the keyboard en masse. Most enjoyable.

I had made it to the library last week so I have plenty of books and I can download books from the library via iPad. So reading is covered. I do want in passing to thank UPS for their prompt re-sending of this book which I mentioned in my entry of December 30. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Michael Ventris announced he had solved the mystery of Linear B about the same time Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest and Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. Bumper year, that. I had read John Chadwick's book The Decipherment of Linear B, but it was heavy going. Margalit Fox's book was much easier to read and she paid more attention to the work of Alice Kober. If only Ventris and Kober could have sent their notes and suggestions flying back and forth across the Atlantic via e-mail with the speed that I am now corresponding with my college friends, think how much they could have achieved. Her book also introduced me to the film AVery English Genius. There are seven parts on YouTube, made even more enjoyable by the fact that the beginning sounds for all the world like the introduction to Downton Abbey.

My other pastime will be jigsaw puzzles. There is a first class series of puzzles by a firm called Cobble Hill, and I have done a number of them. I have just begun this one entitled "Country Schoolhouse." There are 1,000 pieces and despite the appearances here, all the pieces seem to be in various shades of brown. I have not yet conquered the outside: we seem to have chestnut brown, dark brown, medium brown, beige and countless more shades. I will see what I can do with the windows.

Just seen a remark on Facebook from a niece about the wind in Chicago. It will come this way.

Potato soup is most nutritious and I have a lot of potatoes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Obamacare: a Preliminary Assessment

There, that caught your eye, didn't it? But in conformance with my policy of not writing about politics and religion—at least in too much detail—I'm not really writing about Obamacare, although I really wonder if the President prefers "The Affordable Care Act". Maybe I'll write more about this legislation when I find out how it affects me, my insurance, doctors and hospital coverage. Here I follow my avowed aims and give you two peripheral observations, one trivial and one absurd. Unfortunately they both concern my neurologist's office. Poor guy, he's really rather nice, but I do have problems with his office.

This little gizmo is called Phreesia. It looks like a little Etch-a-Sketch, but instead of drawing funny pictures, a patient is supposed to enter data as required by the Affordable Care Act and I think that little recess on the right hand side is for a credit card. The first time I saw one I was told to follow directions and enter data and then the next time I came in I would just pick it up and sign in. It was not easy. It seemed to require a combination of using a stylus and poking the screen with my finger. I never could figure out which I was supposed to do at any given time, but I soldiered on. Mind you, I was about the youngest person in the room and I have a modicum of familiarity with a screen. Oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth from some of the other patients. When (if) you get to the end of the screens about existing conditions, blood pressure and incontinence, there are about 10 pages requiring a signature. Had to use the stylus there, because I was signing permission for all sorts of things. It was at this point that I wondered why the credit card recess was there. Does the machine add up what treatment you have had, assuming the doctor was adept with the stylus and his finger and marked off what he had done, and figure out what I owed the practice? Never mind, right then the nurse came and got me, put me in a room and proceeded to ask the  questions all over again.

The next time I had an appointment the gizmo was no longer in sight.

As for absurd, I noticed this certificate hanging on the wall. "Patient-Centered!". What on earth else should we expect. "Nurse-Centered?" "Doctor-Centered?" Hold on, just as I was posting this photo I started to wonder who or what the Physician Alliance is. I went to their website and a few words jumped out at me immediately— Legal Services, Reducing costs.

Maybe this certificate celebrated a concept that was not so absurd after all.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I Changed my Mind

I just submitted my word-to-be-banished to Lake Superior State. Not the one I mentioned yesterday, but  one somewhat more annoying. Age-appropriate. Let's see what happens. What do you think?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

No Selfie for Me.

I posted on my Facebook page a link to this year's list of banished words as voted by Lake Superior State University. For a little background on the university, see last year's post. You will note that I said I would follow their instructions to suggest a new entry. I did, but they didn't take me up on it. C'est la vie. (Although it is not germane* to what I am writing about here, I will add that my daughter pointed out a more inspirational page from Wayne State. I am happy to say that seven of the words are part of my vocabulary, and I will make an attempt to incorporate more. But seriously, eldritch?)

But I digress.* I eschew* selfie, both the word and the noun. I am never going to take a photo of myself, and from now on I don't want any one else to do so. You will, perhaps, remember the post where I mentioned that my hair was getting oddly curly on one side. Well, now it is doing it on the other side and the back is getting kind of fluffy. There is a scene in Little Women where Meg is at some kind of soiree* where she has to stand with her back to the wall because she has made a disfiguring mark on her dress. Perhaps she was using the goffering iron.* I went to a party last week and did my best to stand with the back of my head out of sight because in spite of a liberal application of water and gel, my hair was as fluffy as a baby duck.

I intend to make my suggestion to Lake Superior State of a word to include on next year's list.  I am sure they will ignore me again, but you can check next January. The word is "basics"—that place that every football player in the league promises to get back to after an embarrassingly bad game.

* Words to use if you want to impress people. They belong on some list or other.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Bigger IS Better

In the past year AT & T launched a series of commercials which I find quite charming. Each features a "father" figure (actually a "teacher" figure) seated at a kindergarten size table with four different small children. In each vignette he poses a question of choice to the children who come up with quite illogical but usually delightful answers. I'm not sure though I'd like this little guy to be my grandson. Needless to say, since AT & T is a mega phone company, several of the choices involve size.

What's this got to do with me? I was harassed for sometime by comments about the large bag I carried. "Women are always rummaging in their purses for their keys", "Have you ever stood behind a woman in the grocery store when she is looking in her purse for her checkbook?""One of your shoulders is going to be lower than the other!"That last remark is particularly hard when my purse is carrying HIS prayerbook, HIS gloves . . . and the list goes on.

So I tried, I really did. It is hard to see in this shot, but I couldn't get my wallet in it, I couldn't get both sets of car keys in it and it is always a good idea to have the keys for his car when he is driving, just in case . . . Without bulging too much it contains a cell phone, one set of keys, a checkbook, a comb (I prefer a brush) a pen, and a few credit cards. Though never the cards for the store I found myself in, and remembering my social security was never my strong point. I think it is meant to be worn slung across my body with careless insouciance. But I don't do insouciance.

So I am giving up and going back to a larger purse. One large enough to put a cheetah in.

Sunday, January 05, 2014


And what am I waiting for? Well, this just about explains it. We can't say we weren't warned: weather forecasters were talking about the coming snowstorm since Friday. My daughter was waiting in line at the grocery store for two hours. I didn't make an expedition to pillage food stores. I figured we could make do with what we had, especially since there were all kinds of leftovers from New Year's Day. Bean and ham soup, anybody? It was strange because yesterday (Saturday) there was no snow, but we woke this morning to a snowy world. The other inhabitant of this house was upset that there was no newspaper, but in fact it was on the step, invisible since the storm door was frozen shut and had to be liberated by my hair dryer. We made it out to church, then came home and started waiting for the full impact of the snow, including the promised snow thunder. Apparently, once the snow stops (or exits the area as I saw on one news report) there will be incredible cold to take its place.

Snow is still coming down steadily and I am following reports of school districts closing via posts on Facebook. Watching the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco play football was unbelievable—5 degrees with a wind chill factor of -10. In a few minutes I'll be watching Downton Abbey, but tomorrow it will be back to the books. Let's see, what to I have? When we were up north I borrowed a book from our friend Steve. I started it one morning because it looked interesting, and I brought it back to finish (but forgot I had it.) It is Surface at the Pole, the extraordinary voyages of the USS Skate. What is extraordinary is that Steve's brother was one of the sailors aboard the submarine as it journeyed under the Polar Ice. Then last week my son-in-law lent me The Lost Men, the harrowing saga of Shackleton's Ross Sea party. See a theme here? Perhaps a trip to the small theatre at the end of the street? Guess what's playing—Frozen.

We will see what tomorrow brings. And never underestimate the worth of a gracious and generous neighbor with a snowblower.