photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, June 28, 2012

...And I'll Keep Repeating it Till You Understand it Or Your Head Explodes

If I hear, "Providing health care for everyone is a warm, fuzzy idea and a worthy goal, but we're drowning in debt- how EVER would we pay for it?" too many more times, I will (I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pretty).

Once more.

And I'll try to use little words.

Right now in order to have health insurance in this country you can be a veteran, disabled, old, or a government employee and receive government health care.


You must purchase health insurance from a private provider.

If you choose (and by "choose" I mean "can't afford private insurance and don't qualify for government coverage") to be un-insured in this country when (not if) you get sick or injured, you need to pay to use the medical system. You can always go to an emergency room, where by law they are required to keep you from dying- nothing more, in spite of "everyone" knowing that "those goddamn Mexicans just waltz into the emergency room and get whatever they need".

Right now, we're facing an "insurance mandate"- the scary part of the healthcare bill that the Supreme Court just voted on (and decided it was constitutional. I know you know that, I just like repeating it...)

That means everyone needs to get insurance. If you can't afford insurance, there are things in place to help you. If you really, absolutely, positively know in your heart of hearts that you'll never get sick or hurt and you really, truly don't WANT health insurance, you'll be imprisoned and put to death.

*just kidding*

Refusal to acquire health insurance will result in a PENALTY. A PENALTY of...under a Ben Franklin per year. OOOOOOOOH- SCARY! That penalty money will come in handy to help pay for the emergency room staff when your dumb ass does get sick or hurt.

So what do the crazy, treehugging liberals and progressives suggest?

What we suggest is Medicare for All- a Medicare part E- for Everyone.

I could go to the social security office and say, "I'd like Medicare E, please". I'd fill out the forms and for the cost of what Ward, Edna and Joe pay ('round about $100 per month), I'd have insurance.

Read it again. Medicare recipients are NOT getting "FREE healthcare"- their Medicare premiums are deducted from their checks every month. We also have a supplemental policy to cover what Medicare doesn't for Ward (another $150 per month, but in the FREE Market he's completely un-insurable for any cost).

Medicare E- Medicare for everyone, would be what is known as a "Single Payer Option".

That's the really important part that got left out of the original ACA (aka Obamacare, which is really just a way to remind people that no matter how many good things it does for millions of people, it's the bastard baby of that black man who sits in the Oval Office even though he's a Muslim Kenyan).

Single Payer Option.

It'd be run by the government, like Medicare, Medicaid and the VA- all run with extreme leanness and efficiency.

That's the "single payer" part.

It would also be Optional. As in, "Yes, I'd like it" or, "No thanks, I'll keep my Blue Cross". That's what "option" means. You don't HAVE to do it.

Medicare Part E would NOT be the end of the Free world and the beginning of the Mark of the Beast. It's an option. A choice. Like free people have. Choices.

Of course, the most dreamy-eyed of us Lefties would prefer Universal Health Care- paid for by TAXES. Yes, TAXES.

"But if I don't get sick or hurt, why should *I* pay for someone else?"

How about because it's the right thing to do- like we pay school taxes happily even though we home school. We pay school taxes, property taxes (that pay for things like roads and firemen and policemen and libraries and parks and whatnot), taxes that say, in effect, "HERE- we value the things that make a civilized society- good roads, safe schools, access to books and trees and HEALTH CARE".

I added up how much we pay JUST in premiums every year- $9,600 for the 3 of us.
We make just under $60,000 per year.
We pay 15% of our income to insurance premiums (not even counting the co-pays and deductibles).
PLEEEEEZE shut down every stinking for-profit insurance company, install a Universal Health Care program that covers everyone no matter what, and instead of paying 15% of our income to the insurance companies who are businesses and try very hard to DENY our usage of those policies, tax us 10% and cover everyone.

"It'll never work".

Yes. Yes, it will. It's up and working in every single civilized country in the world and it works magnificently.

For half a decade I've been preaching all of the above, and people listen to me, nod their heads, smile and ask, "Yes, dear- but how will we PAY for it?" even after I explain step by step and dollar for dollar EXACTLY HOW THE FUCK WE CAN PAY FOR IT.

Makes me just a little irritable, it does.

And yes, we are a country in debt. Wanna fix it?

-cut back on the military

-remove all corporate and finance loopholes

-tax the churches


Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's NOT a Cake

Yanno the Mother Moments I enjoy the most?

The ones where I get to recount a darling story from my children's formative years- stories that are heartwarming, proud-making, humorous or brilliant, but all of them have one common thread.

They embarrass the bejeebers out of my now-grown children.

This is one of those stories.

Sorry, Dave.

The kids (and by "kids" I here refer to my hardly-ever-mentioned-because-they're'all-grown-and-gone elder offspring)were about 4 and 9. David and Erika.

It was their dad's birthday, and in addition to the cards and gifts we had gotten him, Erika decided that they would bake him a cake.

She and Dave followed my loosely supervised instructions and a cake was indeed baked.

The kids were rightfully proud of it.

Their dad left home for work every day before 6am- well before anyone else was up and about, but he'd call home during the day and talk to me, then the kids.

Before handing him the phone, Erika coached her brother upon threat of very real and, "Seriously, David- I'll kill you if you tell him about the cake" death.

Dave, always the Cool One, gave her a reproachful and derisive 'How dumb do you think I am?' look and took the receiver.

"Hi Dad! Guess what? We made you a surprise for your birthday!"

*Daggers flew from Erika's eyes and metaphorically impaled her sibling*

"Nope. Nope. Nope. You'll never ever guess what it is!"

*Dragons exploded in fiery fury from Erika's ears and pummeled her brother about his head and shoulders*

"You can try to guess all day long and you'll never figure it out- whatever you think it might be, IT'S NOT A CAKE!"

*Dave grinned and gave his sister a triumphant Thumbs Up*

It's a curious thing, the motherly ability to simultaneously dissolve in hysterical laughter, intercept a whirling dervish of 9 year old murderous intent and comfort the uncomprehending target of sisterly wrath.

So we leave today for a few days in Houston.

Leaving the farm in the care of Joe, as always, and driving down this afternoon.

Tomorrow we'll spend at the museums and whatnot.

As long as we're there we'll run by MD Anderson and get a head/neck scan, then mosey up to visit Dr. Hanna on Tuesday before we come home.


Oh, well ya. There's this little spot that's come up under Ward's eyelid- it's really nothing and I'm certain Dr. Hanna will agree with us on that.

Just a little area of irritation from getting something in there, or maybe a teeny tiny stye.

Whatever it is- it's not cancer.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Indy Secondhand Bookstore Find- "Ride a Rhino"

Alec and I were on a date day to Gladewater- little town that thinks of itself as the "antiques capital of Texas". It ain't bad. The entire square and for a block off of it is lined with little shops from fancy to shabby, immaculate to filthy- each one claiming to be "The Best of Gladewater".

We pass on the fancy immaculate ones, preferring the shabby filthy ones- places you have to actually study each and every square foot to see what's there.

Rusted ceiling tin draped with lace gloves and fishing nets and a stuffed bobcat gazing with marbled eyes at a set of bone china carefully arranged on an overturned kayak- that sort of place.

So we poked our way through most of the most cluttered ones, and then walked around outside the square- looking at the historic old houses. And there it was.

The used book store.

Just as dusty and cluttered as the most delicious antique store- how could we resist?

Back in the back of the store, in the corner around a corner was a metal rolling cart filled with sort of matching little books. The dust covers were all the same design and the books were all the same size- only the color of the design differed between them.

They're "Companion Book Club" books from Britain- circa 50's and 60's. From what I can gather, it was a "book of the month club" subscription deal. On the back covers are tantalizing snippets from upcoming releases.

So I decided to get one.

I looked them all over- there were a few mysteries, a lot about English gardens, and this one- "Ride a Rhino" by Michaela Denis. I'd never heard of Michaela Denis.

On the off-chance that you haven't, either- here ya go, followed by my review of the book.

"Ride a Rhino" is a series of short stories all having to do with Michaela's beloved Africa. Though some of the information about the various species is, of course, dated and some of the attitudes towards the indigenous people simplistic (but liberal for the times), it's nevertheless an enjoyable peek into the life of a woman who loved animals of all sorts- she and her husband were members of some of the first conservation efforts in Africa- undertaken admittedly (and refreshingly) because the black market made (and makes) the income from poaching for sale abroad profitable for a people who are literally starving.

There are also a fair amount of photos tucked in among the stories, helping them to come alive across half a century.

Against trophy hunting and champions of preserving native traditions, some chapters are heartbreaking, some hilarious (spoiler alert- Scorpions. Can it get any funnier?), but all are a Very Good Read.

I took my book to the counter tentatively- there was no price on it and with it being almost as old as I am but in better condition I braced myself for the price.


I handed the man $5 and told him to keep the change. He asked me, "Are you sure?" and I told him yes.

I would've spent $5 at Barnes and Noble for a book from the bargain bin. And $5 meant way more to him than any of the checkers at B&N.

Support and encourage your local businesses.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eating My Words...Just Because I'm Hungry

The following started out well, with a point...sort of, and then meandered off-course a bit here and there. It's OK, though. It's basically all about food and eating and stuff like that so there's a random common thread throughout. Trust me.

It occurs to me every time we go out to eat, which is often.

The sheer volume of the portions is astounding, and none of us, even Alec, can finish the average restaurant meal...not even "super-sized".

And yet all around us people are cleaning their plates, after appetizers, before dessert. How can they even fit that much into their stomachs?

This isn't a condemnation of people who are overweight (she said, looking in the mirror), or even those lucky few who can eat like horses and look like Twiggy, this is just me wondering why the hell we think we NEED to be presented with a whopping pile o victuals for dinner. For one person.

We ate out at Applebee's for Father's Day. Ward had steak and potatoes, with a side Caesar salad. The salad alone would've been dinner for me. He managed most of the salad and about half of the steak and half of the giant mound of garlic smashed potatoes.

I had a half-sized chicken oriental salad and it was all I could do to finish it.

Alec was hungry and ordered the chicken fettuccine. It came in what would be considered a serving bowl in any household and would've fed our family of 3 handily- not just the poundage of pasta, but the 2 huge slabs of breaded poultry...and garlic bread. Over half of it came home.

I guess if you go into the restaurant with the idea that you are not only eating for that meal but at least another one at home, it's not so bad (and not so wildly, heartstoppingly expensive). And that's what we do.

But a lot of people don't.

And apparently, the noshing doesn't stop with three squares (three, big, giant, industrial-sized squares).

According to the food industry, we're not eating ENOUGH.

We need to be eating more.

Snacks? They're great, too. But we need to be eating FOUR times a day.



Don't you have a WTF moment when there's a surgical weight reduction commercial bracketed between Taco Bell Burrito Muerte Grande and IHOP's maple bacon milkshake?

We try to eat as naturally as possible. It's better for the body, and easier to prepare. It's not difficult or expensive. We eat food that looks as close to how Mother Nature made it as possible- fresh fruits and vegetables, potatoes, rice, pastas, meat that's...meat. Not processed, soaked in "solution", pre-gravied or painted with shit that looks like grill-marks.

I've banned "normal" sodas from our house- I'd love to ban ALL sodas, but baby steps are better than no steps. I want to get away from high fructose corn syrup as much as humanly possible, and sodas are the number one source (at least in our house).

Yes, that means more expensive "natural" sodas that use agave or sugar, but they taste better and we don't drink more than one a day apiece anyway.

But that damn HFCS is in EVERYTHING and I trust it as much as sunblock (that's zero percent).

How can a country be simultaneously weight and fitness obsessed while making a best seller out of Wendy's TRIPLE burger (that comes with mega fries and a large Coke)?

Like I said at the beginning- this is in no way an indictment of anyone who needs to and is trying to lose weight- just an observation of how damn hard our society makes it- "Here- eat all this crap! Why are you overweight???"

I'm eating healthy and I STILL can't lose weight. I'm juicing in the morning (thank you, Joey and his Magic Juicer), having a salad at lunchtime (light on the cheese, oil and vinegar dressing), and a half a portion of what I would normally have for dinner. No snacks. No chips or fries. No desserts.

I've lost Five. Freaking. Pounds.

Ten to go.

And that's not even to my "pre-baby" weight of 125, just a resigned realistic goal of 135.

Here's what matters, though. Even though we eat pretty healthy normally, I had HUGE "snack withdrawal" and was ravenous (and crabby) (yea, verily more crabby than normal) most of the first two weeks. Then...I was fine.

I don't miss chips or fries- don't even miss cookies.

And I FEEL better- less bloated, less "yech", more OK with being hungry between meals and stopping eating when I'm not hungry anymore- instead of when the plate is empty.

How anti-American is THAT?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sorry, Wrong Number

Ever get a wrong number?

The phone rings, and someone says, "Hi- Steve?" and you say, "I'm sorry, there's no Steve here- you must have dialed the wrong number".

They say, "Isn't this 123-456-7890?" and you say, "I'm sorry- no it isn't".

Then they apologize and everyone hangs up.

Ever get a wrong TEXT?

Not like, "Oh, hell- I just meant to text what an unreasonable doofus the boss is being to a co-worker and inadvertently sent it to...THE BOSS" (which I actually have done- good thing the boss has an excellent sense of humor AND realizes when he's being an unreasonable doofus).

But an actual, "I don't recognize this number" wrong text.

I did, just yesterday.

Here it is, along with explanations of why it just seemed a

Them- "Come up to the field and play football".

This is hilarious because my athletic abilities are several levels below non-existent AND I'm a pear-shaped 52 year old.

Me- "Surely you have the wrong number lol"

Them- "Lol no I don't".

I suspected this was my son Jordan on someone else's phone. There was a time when we both worked at the same clinic and during lunch hour everyone would hightail it out to play an informal game of softball. By request, I was always given the very important but definitely non-running, non-batting, non-catching role of "Base".

Me- "What? Ya'll short a goal post???"

Sound of crickets from the other party...

Today I texted Jordan on HIS phone, asking if he sent me the above. He denied any knowledge of it, so I forwarded the above conversation to him.

He's still laughing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Goofy Old People Holding Hands at the Zoo

Look into my eyes
And you will see
Beyond who I am now

Your friend at first
Your lover later
Your wife and mother of our boy

When I was young
And slim
And unwrinkled

Before Life shaped us both
Like an overzealous potter
With clay

Pounding and pushing
Forcing out the bubbles
Making us stronger

Look into my eyes
And you will see
Beyond who I am now

Our age
Our condition

Our bodies are only
The shells that hold
Our eyes

Our eyes connect
Our souls
And have always seen

Who we are

Happy 13th Anniversary, Gomez
I love you

Friday, June 8, 2012

Deliver Us From Evil

People are afraid of the strangest things.

Actually, people do tend to fear anything strange, different, odd, or otherwise not like themselves.

In the animal kingdom, this means if people are prone to liking creatures besides other humans, the tendency is towards those who are warm-blooded at least, and generally the furry ones elicit more fondness than the feathered ones.

Those without fur or feathers usually need not apply.

So, while dogs and cats top the list of family pets, followed by any number of pocket pets (hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and whatnot) and birds like cockatiels and parakeets and finches, you need to go far down on the list- sometimes actually off of the list- to find things like snakes, tarantulas, hermit crabs and Madagascar giant hissing cockroaches.

(Yes. People keep Madagascar giant hissing cockroaches as pets- see?)

OK. I'm not a fan of the big bugs, either. Never wanted an ant farm, never been tempted even a tiny bit to get a tarantula, even a pretty one-

But I do love me some reptiles.

Lizards large and small, snakes long and short- In my life as a Veterinary Assistant I've handled and restrained almost anything- the largest snake I ever assisted with was an albino python belonging to a stripper. That one was about 14ft. long nose to toes about like the one in this photo-

...the stripper was substantially shorter, and a fair sight better looking than Steve Erwin.

People can't believe I don't mind working with snakes.

"Aren't they slimy?" No.

"Arent' you afraid that they'll bite you?" Mostly, no.

"Wouldn't you rather work with a cute little kitten?" Oh, not only no, but HELL NO.


Cats are pound for pound the 2nd most dangerous animal to work on.

They can bite, they can claw, they can literally spin around inside their skins to get at you, they hiss, spit and scream like banshees, and if all else fails they are not opposed one bit to peeing or pooping on you. Even the nicest cat leaves a pile of hair in your lap and/or stuck to your clothes anywhere it touches you.

Once you have ahold of any snake properly- right behind the jaws, and are supporting its body so it doesn't feel like it's going to fall, you're golden. They can't bite from there, they have no claws, don't pee or poo in anger, and don't even have fur to shed all over you.

So yes. This is the face of the 2nd most dangerous animal to work on-

What on earth could be the MOST dangerous?

Well, I've worked with dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats, emus, snakes, pocket pets of all kinds including hedgehogs, birds from finches to macaws, and wild animals from armadillo to zebras and though I've been bitten, kicked, scratched, evacuated on, slammed into walls and damn near drooled to death, only one has left a scar.

Was it the 250 pound pot bellied pig that was anything but miniature and oh so unhappy to be sedated? Nope.

Was it the cayman we were anesthetizing that only SEEMED to be asleep the first dozen times we took off the mask? Nope.

How about the 45 pound raccoon that was found wandering the streets during the day, making him a terrific candidate for distemper? Not a chance. He was just old and didn't even have any teeth left.

Can you stand the suspense?

Give up in guessing?

The Number One Dangerous animal to work on, and the only one to leave me literally scarred for life in almost half a century of working with critters is

Pure. Unadulterated. Evil.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Land of the Free, Home of the Belligerent

(Stupid Playlist no longer supports the playlist widgit. Till I figure out some other way to do this I'll link the blog-song here...if you wanna listen while you read)

I love America.

I'm an American, and I love America.

So it's discouraging to me when I question the status quo and point out ways that the same issues are being handled in other countries to hear the knee-jerk, spat-out response of, "If you think it's so great in France/the Netherlands/Australia/Canada/Cuba/etc./etc./etc. why don't you MOVE there???"

I don't want to move. I want THIS country to work the way it was intended to.

"We don't need no labor unions- buncha murderous, sleazy thugs. I work in a non-union shop for low wages, no benefits and long hours in dangerous conditions but DAMN IT- I don't pay no union dues. This is America- I should be FREE from the tyranny of unions".

"We don't WANT Socialized Government-run health care- tell us what doctors to see, who gets treated, that's bullshit. This is America- I'm FREE to be denied care from any little pencil pusher at the 800 number of the private insurance company I pay high premiums to every month. And when I retire, that Big Government Nanny State better keep it's paws offa MY Medicare".

"Oversight of banking and corporations? HELL, NO! This is Capitalist America, damn it- anyone who can hire lawyers and accountants has earned the right to cheat the rest of us- God blesses those who help themselves. If my family is hurt by those practices, well, we'd best get off our asses and work 80 hours a week instead of 60...if we can find an extra full-time job. But No-sir-ee, I ain't taking no government aid handouts like unemployment or food stamps so my family can eat and stay in our home- I'm FREE to determine my OWN fate."

"College? Sure it's expensive- and as useful as tits on a bull. Buncha sissified elitists think they know more than the rest of us- if they want to spend $50,000 on a degree in Underwater Basketweaving, I sure as hell ain't paying for it."

All the above seems absolutely cartoonish and stereotypical and yet...those exact stories are told and held up over and over again in answer to anything "Occupy" or "99%". The pride exuding from people who are (really) honest and hard-working yet somehow can't see that what they are doing- how many hours they HAVE to work just to survive is heartbreaking and way out of proportion to our counterparts in other nations, both in benefits and paid time off- and that to continue on the way we are is to doom our children to the same never-get-ahead debt slave existence most of us are now in. Don't we want BETTER for our kids?

How little schooling we in this country can afford for ALL learning- not just vocational, but exercising the (also very big) parts of our brains that revel in literature, and art, and music- those parts that differentiate us as humans from our animal friends who only worry about food and shelter and reproduction. Those parts are left to wither and die in most of today's lives- bodies that must spend so much time on the "animal basics" and brains that are being tricked into thinking that somehow "Survivor" and "Jersey Shore" is quality stimulating entertainment, when in other places it's a given that school is outstanding, diverse, and FREE up to and including a 4 year college. If you want to go farther, most times THAT is paid for as well (which answers the question of, "Medical school is so expensive- how can other countries afford to pay for medical care for all?")

Everyone likes to hold up The Founding Fathers as examples and that's great. The Founding Fathers were really pissed off at the old regimes in Europe- debtors' prisons, feudal societies, a decent way of life for only those who could afford it, at the expense of those who could not. Really. Pissed. Off.

So pissed off they up and started their own country- one that would be free.

Free of The Church imposing its morals and doctrine on all citizens no matter their own Faiths, free of the unfairness of Might Makes Right and Money Buys All.

See? They took all the things they wanted CHANGED about the old systems, and did it- changed it up to work better.

Because that's what you do if something changes and isn't working anymore. You change it so it DOES work again.

If my old eyes aren't working and even Dollar Store cheaters won't let me read, I (eventually) suck up my pride and go get bi-focals, I don't curse the tiny words on the page and the way every, single damn street sign has smudged letters.

If somehow the banks and corporations buy enough politicians to enact laws that favor them over everyone else, we're supposed to get pissed and change it back, not hold them up as role models and aspire to the same level of societal immorality.

What the hell happened?

Why are we content to stagnate and actually DEvolve into a pre-America America where the Fundamental Religious Right and the Corporations look very much like the Church and State of Medieval European times?

Are we just too tired? Too discouraged? Too trained to listen to bosses and politicians and preachers and anyone who says stubbornly and defiantly,

"We do NOT look elsewhere for direction and inspiration- This is America- we are the Best of the Best and fuck the rest".

Or is it because, as John Steinbeck said- “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

One in three bankruptcies in America is due to medical debt. The average American has NOTHING to retire age 70. Our life expectancies are low and our infant mortality is high. We rank behind only Romania in percentage of children living in poverty. Our schoolchildren come out of school woefully behind most other nations.

How is it that even with the wonders of the interwebs people don't KNOW this? Or if they DO hear it, they assume it's propaganda and untrue and since most Americans never travel out of state, much less out of the country, they remain belligerently ignorant.

We've been so indoctrinated to fear ANYTHING with the word "Socialism" in it- "Well, fine- all those Europeans live longer, are happier, healthier, better educated and all that mess, but they ain't FREE and any minute now- maybe on one of their extended paid-time-off vacations- they'll realize just how sorry their existence under the thumb of Socialism really is! Ha. Poor bastards."

...yet these same people still believe in "trickle down" here in America...

I don't want to move. I want THIS country to work the way it was intended to.

Because honestly? Right now our Founding Fathers would be horrified and embarrassed- not by how close we are to being sucked into Commie Pinko Socialism Nanny Statedness, but by how we've allowed, and even encouraged the same entities they despised to overrun us and somehow train us to thank them for the indignity.