Thursday, December 15, 2011

For Those Without Money, It's A Heartless World

Tomorrow afternoon I will undergo yet another surgery, the third since August. My right wrist will be fused, strengthening my hand and relieving me of intense, debilitating pain. This is possible because I have good health insurance. It will cause no financial hardship for me or Dennis.

But tonight I'm thinking of others, mostly women, who suffer the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis and who do not have health insurance, who cannot even consider having surgery to restore function and relieve pain. Their lives and the lives of their families must be living hell.

Surely a great democracy can provide its citizens with health care. This should be a basic right of all Americans. But this country, replete with technology, fine automobiles, vacation homes, and material possessions of every ilk, does not grant all of us this right. As Dennis said last evening, "For those without money, it's a heartless world."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Today We Lost A Dear Friend

Butch stopped by yesterday to deliver kitchen scraps to the chickens. He had special containers to store scraps in the refrigerator. Whenever they were full, he drove out, fed the chickens and came in the house to pick up a couple dozen eggs and linger to visit.

Yesterday we discussed the subjects we always returned to – politics, the economy, weather – but added a new one: signing up for Medicare. He would be eligible in January and was wondering what he should do about supplemental insurance. That struck me as irrelevant because Butch has avoided seeing a doctor for as long as I've known him. Yesterday he said he wouldn't need Part D because he would never take medicine.

When our conversation turned to the state of our society and I said I worried for its future, Butch said, "I don't worry about that. I believe the universe began when I was born and it will end when I die."

Today Butch's universe ended. A friend, concerned that Butch wasn't returning his calls, went to check on him and found him lying dead in his apartment.

Butch was more like a member of our family than a friend. He was sweet, unpretentious, smart, capable, and loyal. He loved Annie and the chickens. He always lived here to care for them when we were out of town. He was a skilled carpenter and created many things in our house, all of which will always remind us of him. He was shy, I believe. We begged him to join our family for Thanksgiving but he apparently spent the day alone, even though his brother had invited him, too.

It's been awfully good to know you, Butch. Thank you for sharing your universe with us. You leave a big empty place in our lives.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bad News and a Blessing

For a while my second wrist surgery was going well. I cooked. I washed dishes. Then a new kind of pain arose in my right hand, intense and breath-taking. I was again reduced to being a one-handed person.

When I went to the surgeon for a final check of the surgical outcome, I said a new problem had arisen, probably unrelated to the surgery. The surgeon ordered X-rays of my right wrist. He studied them carefully, then announced that my right wrist is in worse shape than my left had been before he fused it. I had two options, he said. One is an artificial wrist joint that is not very durable. It might last five years. After it breaks I would have to undergo another, more difficult surgery to fuse the wrist. The other option is immediate wrist fusion, which allows for no wrist movement whatsoever.

I left his office with tears welling in my eyes. Is there no end to this deterioration? How will I manage to live, to survive another surgery?

I drove from the surgeon's office to the downtown. There was banking to do and I needed to pick up the sunglasses I had left the day before at the bakery. I was walking up Vermont Street, fighting tears, when I looked up and was amazed to see Dennis walking toward me.

When we met, he asked, "What's the matter, Darlin'?" He looked in my eyes and without another word enveloped me in his arms and held me close while I rested my head against his shoulder.

Never in my life have I needed more to be held by someone who loves me, and there he was, a blessing.

Of course I will do what must be done. There is no way out but through. His love will give me the strength to endure, just as it gave me the solace I desperately needed, standing by the library on Vermont Street last Tuesday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chinese Junk

No, I'm not writing about a cute little boat. This is about the quality of goods made in China. For example, I recently replaced a Revere Ware one-quart saucepan because I had burned food in my old one and don't have the hand strength to scour it out. 
When the new one arrived, it felt lighter than the old one. I hadn't thrown out the old one, so I weighed both. The old one weighs 13.95 ounces, the new one 10.60 ounces.

 I noticed that the new one was made in China so I searched on line for Revere Ware and found this page: <>. The first sentence reads, "Revere Ware Cookware are a quality product, if you happened to bought one then you made an investing worth to be protected." Gee, I wonder who wrote that sentence. Do you suppose it was written by one of the employee-owners of  Revere Copper Products, Inc.? The company's web site describes it as "a privately owned corporation whose only shareholders are its employees. Its business operates in a collegial, team-based structure with a manufacturing center in Rome, New York." This tinny little pan certainly wasn't made in Rome, New York, and I doubt the copy writer has ever been there either.

The company's motto may well be, "You want cheap? We got cheap." Paul Revere, founder of the original Revere Copper Company, must be rolling in his grave.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life's Lessons

Most of life's lessons, it seems, come through mistakes we make – errors of judgement, hasty decisions, impulsive actions, inattentiveness, egotism and plain old ignorance.

Some of the lessons I've learned, both major and minor, read as a list of Don'ts. For example:

Don't lay your glasses on a bed or chair seat.

Don't spend much time with know-it-all, overbearing people.

Don't use the sharp edge of a knife to scrape food off the cutting board.

Don't try to be someone other than your self.

Don't put off having the chimney cleaned regularly if you have a wood stove.

Don't mistake sexual desire for love.

Don't try to get even.

Don't buy a Kenmore dryer.

On the other hand, some lessons belong on my a Do list, such as:

Do try to be kind.

Do eat your greens every day.

Do your best, even if it isn't very good.

Do take a book along when you leave home.

Do treat fellow human beings and other creatures with respect.

Do give what you can.

Do empty the pockets before throwing clothes in the washer.

Do try to be in the right place to watch the full moon rise.

Both of these lists could be much longer, of course. I wonder what your lists would include if you wrote them on the spur of the moment as I just did.