Am I Blue …

A friend at work told me I looked tired yesterday. I’d noticed it before she mentioned it having seen the dark shadows under my eyes earlier that morning. I’ve been working more over the last few weeks filling in for someone who’s been out due to illness, but even with the added hours, my time at work requires a fraction of the energy required by some jobs I’ve had in the past.

I took a part-time job (one really I enjoy) to pay off an ugly amount of credit card debt I incurred when I was stuck in Atlanta last year and this week, I sent the last payment off to the two cards I owed.

You’d think I’d be celebrating, but I’ve been unable to rouse much enthusiasm. I also received an unexpected gift this week from a friend I met through work and it pleases me more than I can say to see it sitting on my desk now and to know the kind thought and motivation that prompted it.

John and I are both healthy and my family and friends in Atlanta are fine, but even with all the good, I still feel exhausted and blue.

My creativity seems to have disappeared and responding to emails from friends feels as if it’s more than I can do now. I think about calling family in Atlanta to connect, but even that feels like a struggle. Plus folks back home have their own worries and don’t need to hear me grumbling about some vague feeling of sadness that I can’t explain.

It’s not so easy to hide it from John and as I discovered yesterday morning, there’s no reason to keep it from him. After an exchange over breakfast that didn’t go well, I went back to his study and said that I may look happy and okay, but I’m not. I said I was feeling fragile, weepy, and sad and that I was going to need a little more gentleness than normal. He listened with understanding and is secure enough not to feel like he has to fix everything for me. Sometimes being heard is enough.

After running through a mental checklist searching for reasons and countering each negative with the bountiful list of positives in my life, I remembered what I seem to forget each year until I find myself deep in it again.

March and April are always tough months for me and with no good reason that I can find. You’d think after years of feeling what I’ve sometimes called ‘ The Easter Effect ‘ because of the time of year when it occurs, I’d be better prepared. But I forget until it’s here again sneaking up on me like it’s the first time making days that should be happy feel flat and difficult to get through.

I wrote about this feeling in a post titled ‘ Off Kilter ‘ in 2010 and after rereading the post and the comments it received, I am reminded that like Cindy La Ferle, I should be back to normal after Easter arrives.

April 8th … not too long to wait.

I wanted to share a couple of photos of a lone Grape Hyacinth that stayed with me this week during my gloominess. I found it intriguing that it appeared to be growing out of the rock.

I snapped the first photo a few days before going back for the next two because I wanted to show how it had found a tiny indentation in the long stone that acts barrier along the grassy edge of the village green. The most interesting thing about this for me was discovering how it was growing in the barest minimum of dirt.

Looking down into what was hardly more than a chipped place in the stone, I was impressed by the tenaciousness of this tiny plant and its ability to take root and bloom in a space where there was so little to sustain it.

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I’m sure I’ll be alright in a few weeks, but there’s no way I’m giving up sugar next year for Lent.

Finding The Right Medicine

I’ve been taking this cough medicine every night hoping if I take enough I can stop coughing long enough to get to sleep before 3:00 AM. Added to that, I’ve been in the guest room for the last week so John can sleep. He didn’t ask, but there was no way I was going to torture him with what sounded as if I were coughing up a lung.

He even suggested I see a doctor when the cough became worse saying he thought I might need an antibiotic and if you knew how he feels about even taking an aspirin, you’ll have an idea of how bad I sounded.

Last night I accepted an invitation to a girl’s night out with some women who live in the village. I was so excited to be asked that I mustered up some energy and went. The hostess knows I’m a light weight when it comes to alcohol and that I rarely drink. Last night she decided to change that up a bit for me.

I think I had five Gin & Tonic’s over the five hours we were all out together. I arrived home feeling sober and relaxed and slept without coughing for the first time in almost two weeks. I woke feeling refreshed with not even a twinge of headache leading me to believe that perhaps the best medicine for a bad cough, might be the one below.

Internet Image

I think we may need to add some Tanqueray to the medicine chest.

Proper dosing might be a bit tricky, I think I can work it out.

Bottoms Up!

Coughing, Sleeping, And Glorious Soup Eating

As you can see by my title, my activities have been a bit limited this week. I’ve been fighting a nasty bug that has taken me out of action in a way I’ve not experienced since meeting John and moving to England. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad for so long.

The progression of symptoms has been interesting in the six days since I began to feel ill. In the beginning I felt as if I had one of my blog friend’s big dogs sitting on my chest. That’s how I described to John anyway and it was the first symptom I felt. No cough or even a runny nose, just a heavy feeling of weight on my chest. Everything else came later with the cough being the worst of it.

Being waylaid by a bug can be a time of discovery and now that I think I may be approaching the end of it (I’ve heard this one comes and goes) I can share a couple of things I’ve learned.

John is an excellent caregiver, bless him.

I’ve not had a lingering week-long illness before with him and he has been steadfast in making sure I was taken care of. When you’re used to taking care of yourself it can be difficult to allow someone to care for you. I’ve been learning how to do just that this week as I was too poorly to do much more than cough, complain, and sleep.

Next discovery, the right soup can be lovely anytime when you’re ill, even for breakfast.

I’ve been living on some delicious soup for the last few days. It tasted so good that I imagined it must have loads of fat and calories and once I was feeling a little better, I had a look at the new soup John brought home for me.

Glorious Skinny Soup Photo From Glorious Website.

To my delight, I discovered it was a Skinny Soup made by Glorious foods and it’s the best tasting soup I’ve had in a long time. It’s only sold at Sainsbury’s and even though we have to drive into town to shop there, we’ll be picking some more up tomorrow.

I’ve also been drinking loads of water and lemon-ginger tea to stay hydrated and I’ve tried to sleep as much as possible by napping in the daytime to make up what I miss while I’m coughing my way through the night.

A last thought is how true it is what they say about good health.

I can’t imagine feeling this poorly all the time. I know many people are living with illness and disease far worse than my brief bout and I’m grateful for what feels like the approaching end to this miserable flu.

Check out the Glorious Foods selections if you live in the UK and I wish you good health as we move into the new year.

 

Going Home

Marg & Miranda - 1990

On Christmas Eve, my step-mom’s Aunt Margaret died. Born in a small town in Alabama, she was the youngest of ten children and the last one to go. Called Marg by her family (pronounced like Mog) she was more like an older sister to Cullene than an aunt making the loss even deeper for Cullene who is an only child.

Later today she will be going with my sister Jennie to Marg’s military funeral in the town where they both grew up. I wish I could be there too. Marg was just about my favorite of Cullene’s family although she wasn’t the only one in that group that knew how to have a good time. She was quick to try to make you laugh and I always loved a visit that included her.

In declining heath after a stroke two days before turning 87, she eased gently out of life just as the much of the world was slowing down to focus on family and Christmas celebrations.

I’d like to think that there a was great party waiting for her after she let go. With nine brothers and sisters all gone before her, I can almost hear her feet on the front porch and the screen door slamming shut behind her. Her brother Bab’s there too hurrying across the room to snatch up his baby sister folding her into a big hug before shouting over his shoulder and calling the family in with the words “Hey everybody, Marg’s finally here!”

I wrote a post that included memories and more about Marg last September and have copied it below. 

Making Gifts From Photo Memories

I used to make large and unusual photo collages to give as gifts to mark special occasions. I began doing it about 25 years ago when I became frustrated with the amount of photographs I was taking and the lack of ways to display them. Albums seemed tedious and too many framed images felt more like clutter than a way to share a memory.

I came across a photo in my files of one collage I made and thought some of you might be interested. It was a gift for my step-mom’s aunt Margaret who served in the Navy during WWII and stayed in long enough to retire.

Born in a small town where everyone knew and loved her, her desire to see a bigger world and the courage to venture into places where women from small towns usually didn’t go, would have made her my type of role model when I was growing up. I put this together for her 80th birthday about eight or nine years ago. It’s not my best collage, but it is one of my sentimental favorites.

It’s smaller than most of the collages I’ve done in the past, only about 24 inches tall and 14 or so wide. I didn’t have as many photos to work with as I normally do. I’m used to having loads to choose from, but because it was a surprise I had to work with what Cullene had on hand.

Knowing that the Navy was such an important part of Margaret’s life, I enlarged a V-Mail letter and envelope from my great-uncle Hugh who died towards the end of WWII. I used it as a backdrop and tried to position it so that it would not be obvious that he was writing to his parents.

I wanted to project a feel for that time during her history and thought it was a good stand-in since I didn’t have any written by Margaret. I made photo copies of the old photos Cullene gave me and tore the edges before gluing them on with rubber cement. I like to use different textures normally and this was actually a bit too glossy for me.

Personalized Party Favors

I also made little party favors (memory items) for each guest at the 80th party to sit at each of the place settings. I based it on a story Cullene told me about how in those days small happenings made the newspaper in the close-knit community where she and Margaret grew up.

Since she broke her arm playing on bales of cotton, I decided to make mini bales with a laminated photo copy of the news clipping attached to it. I can’t help thinking how nice it would be to live in a place where a little girl’s broken arm during play was part of the news.

Twas The Night Before …

Grady ID Clinic, World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day 2000-Karen Grice (unidentified) Elizabeth Harper, Angelle Vuchetich,

I woke this morning dreaming of a miraculous gift in a way, but one that had nothing to do with Santa. It should be not be surprise to me that it occurred on the eve of December 1 or that it had to do with HIV since today is World AIDS Day.

I remember two things from my dream only one of which made sense at the time and one came to me later as I was writing an email to the person in my dream.

David is a physician in Atlanta who is very much involved in HIV medicine and I imagine still sees a fair amount of patients who are living with HIV. We met when I worked for a pharmaceutical company whose focus was on HIV treatment and side effects.

David’s a lot of fun and I love hanging out with him, but there are some things I never ever expect to see him do, not even in dreams. I think that’s one reason I remembered it because what he was doing was way over the top for him.

In my dream … he was lying on the floor with both feet up in the air kicking and screaming  and waving his arms while shouting something like, “Yaaaaaay! NO MORE HIV TESTING!” There was a television on in the background with a news flash running across the bottom. The whole experience communicated a cure or vaccine for the virus and I watched in amazement as he celebrated the victory.

The other stand out thing in my dream was the number 37 and while it was clear to me what was happening the first part, I couldn’t figure out the 37 piece.

After I finished the email to David this morning it occurred to me as I hit send that I was 37 when I accepted a position with the immunology sales force and began an experience that would change my life.

The six years I spent working in the HIV community were monumental in terms of personal growth for me. I think it was during that time that I truly became an adult while seeing things and meeting people with more heart, passion, and resilience than I could have imagined.

It can be easy to overlook World AIDS Day as the noise level and media attention has diminished each year. With many people living longer and stronger with HIV, it’s tempting to forget that we haven’t found a cure, that prevention is still about education and safe sex and that as sweet as it may be to dream a different future, it’s not over … not yet.

Shaming, Blaming, & Silence – How Sexual Harassment Changed The Direction Of My Life

I try really hard to stay away from politics on my blog and I’ve bitten my tongue for the last few days over the reported sexual harassment allegations about U.S. Presidential hopeful, Herman Cain.

After yesterday’s press conference, I need to have my say.

When I was eighteen, I joined the Army. I was hopeful going in about the changes I expected to go through and when my enlistment came to an end, I felt I’d met most of the goals I set for myself when I’d held up my hand four years earlier promising to protect and defend.

Protect and Defend

I never expected that I would be required to protect and defend myself from some the soldiers I served with. I enlisted in the late 70s when the military didn’t like to admit to any problem that might affect combat readiness, and sexual harassment was a huge topic that no one wanted to acknowledge as an issue.

I made it through a coed Basic Training and AIT with a sense of camaraderie and connectedness that would not last when I arrived at my first permanent duty assignment. The idea that we were all just soldiers in Uncle Sam’s employ disappeared fairly rapidly when I had to fight for respect over and over from the men in my unit and others on the male dominated military post.

I want to clarify that it wasn’t all the men I met, just enough to make it extremely uncomfortable walking on post or working alone with some people I saw everyday.

It wasn’t just the things that were said. It was the implied threats by groups of men as I was passing by, men who said things that were so overtly sexual and disrespectful that the idea they felt free enough to say them made me feel afraid that given an opportunity, they might act on them. This type of thing happened every day during and after work. No public place felt safe and even my work area felt stressful and uncomfortable.

It didn’t only happen where men were gathered in groups, some would follow me around the PX saying suggestive things in a lowered voice even as I pretended to ignore them.

When my section sergeant, a man in direct position of authority, grabbed me by the lapels of my fatigue jacket and banged me repeatedly in the metal awning of the motor pool door because I refused to ‘date’ him, I took the incident up my chain of command.

It was a difficult process as I was forced to repeat my complaint over and over while enduring the mocking response of men I was supposed to look to for leadership. I went through person after person (all male) until I finally reached the office of my commanding officer who told me that I wiggled too much when I walked, and that I wore too much makeup.

All My Fault

He basically told me that it was my fault as he went over a list that was all about me and not the offenders. When I asked him how he’d feel if it was his wife or daughter, he said I was soldier as if this made it okay.

I remember clearly telling him that I had a right to the same basic respect as anyone and it was not okay with me. I’m still surprised I was brave enough to speak my opinion so freely as he had me ‘standing at ease’ in front of his desk while he sat behind it. Can you imagine what it felt like to fight all the way to his office expecting a different outcome than the one I received? I expected better from people I was supposed to follow into battle.

As to his assertion that I was somehow responsible, I had already worked hard to walk as if I were invisible, protected my ‘reputation’ by dating only one man during the time I was stationed in Germany, and as for makeup, I wore even less then than I wear now.

That I’m even explaining all this now irritates me beyond belief. Why should I still feel obligated to explain how I did nothing to encourage the unwanted attention of the men I worked with.

Taking Me Out Of My Job

Their solution to ‘my problem’ was to take me out of my job and put me somewhere else, not discipline the man who laid hands on me or the men who intimidated me with their near constant sexual chatter about what they’d like to ‘do to me.’

There was a fair amount of finger pointing and veiled threats when it got around that I had complained about some of the words and behavior of men in my unit.

I was labeled a trouble maker for speaking up and you know what happens to women like that … if you’re not sure, take a look at what’s happening to Karen Kraushaar and Sharon Bialek.

I think they are very brave.

Women who speak up about sexual harassment open themselves up to an often dangerous and unbearable amount of public scrutiny and ridicule.

That Herman Cain has gone from calling the charges a plot by Republican Rick Perry, to a Democratic attempt to smear him, tells me enough.

Given a opportunity, it will soon be all about those ‘bad women who wiggle too much when they walk and wear too much makeup.’

Once I thought I wanted a career in the military. Even after the sexual harassment I experienced and the effect on my enlisted tour, I thought it might be different if I were an officer, I thought I might be able to make things different for other women.

With that in mind, I joined the National Guard as part of a simultaneous program with the ROTC program at the university I attended.

After my commanding officer invited me to sit on his lap when we were alone in his office, I decided that a military career was not for me. I thought if it occurred in corporate America, I could always quit, but as a career officer, I’d have nowhere to go and I had no desire to be labeled or held back because of it.

It still makes me angry that I had to consider future escape routes when planning on my career due to the expectation that I might have to work with more men who could not control themselves properly.

I know there are loads of pressing topics facing Americans now and sexual harassment may seem like a non issue to a great many people who have been fortunate to have never experienced it, but this is really a bigger topic than who said or did what to whom.

It is about integrity and the ability to admit to past misdeeds having examined the behavior and changed it. It’s about acknowledging that while that may have been who you were then, it is not who you are now.

I believe Karen Kraushaar and Sharon Bialek in part because I know personally how much easier it can be to stay silent and just move on … easier for a while, but not forever.

If you’ve been affected by sexual harassment, I’d love for you to speak up here even if it’s not possible to do so at work or any other place in your life. 

It needs to stop!

I Hate Bullies!

I hate bullies and I’m willing to bet most of you do too.

We tend to think of bullying as something that occurs with children on the playground or at school events, but what happens when bullies grow up and words become fists designed to demean and devalue your opinions as soon as they leave your mouth.

I recently had a multi-commented exchange with someone on a friend’s Facebook page after I commented on a video she’d posted. The exchange got became heated when I got into a back and forth bit with someone listed as a friend of hers. Even though I discerned fairly quickly that he needed to have the last word, I could not help responding to the misinformation and high-handed way he was twisting the truth to suit his argument.

That he tossed the word ‘Rape’ into what he assumed would be the final death-blow to the exchange was no surprise. Having seen the image below on a website bearing his name, I think I can see what he thinks about women and their role.

The name of his website has been removed from the top of the door. (No need to give him anymore attention by sending you there and there’s so little to see that it would be a waste of your time.)

Name Calling

As you can see below, he defaulted to accusing me of name calling when I identified a list of bad behaviors he shared with a few other people who communicated in the same way.

Bullies like MF always try to deflect in conversations they want to win and will say whatever to put you on the defensive or try shock you into speechlessness. Tossing out comments like ” What’s going to happen to health care when your people finally rape the last wealthy citizen?” tell me all I need to know about him.

And let me say this, if I had been in a name calling mood I could have easily come up with a few ugly and insulting ones beginning with his initials, but you know how I hate to swear on my blog so I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks after you read the exchange below.

My friend Kimberly posted a George Carlin video on her Facebook page that sparked the drama below.

  • MF :This one always makes me chuckle. He will go down in history as one of the greatest observers of mankind and the human condition, and I loved him for it. BUT, when I hear this rant, all I can do is smile and say, that rigged, tilted table worked out pretty good for you, George!
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  • EH: I just had a bookstore owner here in Cornwall tell me that one of the biggest problems America had was with the election process. He was amazed by how much money can be ‘donated’ to political campaigns and the impact of all that backscratching later. He moved on to the lack of access for all to health care in the US and why Americans would continue to make snide comments about the British health care system when at least they have access to care. A standout difference for me is that NO ONE loses their house or life here because they cannot afford to pay.
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  • MF: No one here doesn’t have access to health care. It’s a myth I’m happy to disprove for anyone willing to make a “field trip” with me. As for no one losing their house because they cannot afford to pay…How profane! Then why in the world would anyone actually pay!??? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong…I mean Europe is in such great shape these days, who am I to question how things get done over on that side of the pond. The brat riots of the past Summer were a blast to watch on TV. Never get enough of hearing “I want, I want, I want” in those cute accents!
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  • EH: ‎” No one here doesn’t have access to health care. ” You have got to be kidding! There are plenty of people who fall in between and are not able to have proper health care. Don’t make me spell it out. I too could take you on a “field trip” to disprove what you say. And I see I should have said … those with heath insurance who still lose their homes and everything they have because their co-pay or out of pocket costs exceed everything they’ve saved. Good luck to you or someone you love if you ever need more than you have in your bank account. As for the riots to which you refer, you might wish to read this historical account on London rioting going back to 1189 before you try your hand at humor on the subject. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_riots_in_LondonSee More
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  • MF: Hilarious. I doubt you could spell much of anything out to me, much less this subject. Believe what you want. If anyone doesn’t get health care in this Country, it’s because they choose not to go. Doctors give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in free care every year to patients they are forced to treat, or lose standing in the hospitals they work out of. If you don’t get treatment here, you simply didn’t go. I know that’s hard for the brainwashed left to get their arms around…We’re such a mean place and all, but that’s reality, and I pray that at some point folks like you will make some effort to educate yourselves instead of watching Michael Moore movies.
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  • MF:  And the list of riots and their reasons is really funnier than the brats of last Summer. I’ll give that one to you. Hilarious stuff you all have destroyed property and killed people over. I mean, from wrestling and hookers, to a gin tax and tailors? Wow! Wish we had TV back then!
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  • BBC(Another commenter) I know someone who has private insurance and has paid on-time for all his life. He has AIDS and they changed his prescription co-pay AFTER he renewed his policy. He has to come up with $6000 up front for 3 months of life-saving medication that he only used to have co-pay $200 a month. He can’t afford his mortgage payment or other bills if he buys the drugs. He and his partner are middle class, pay their bills on time and have been screwed by an insurance company they have been loyal to for years. There is a waiting list for the drug assistance program that he does not qualify for because he has private insurance. Their household makes too much money for medicaid and now he is more than 50 days w/o meds that save his life. He could die. Thank you America for your AWESOME health care… This is what happens when corporations are in charge of who lives and dies. They will choose death if it saves them a buck every time…
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  • MF: And government would naturally do it better, Beth? What does government do better? Where do they operate more efficiently. Your friend’s story is quite sad. He should have read his contract. That’s what a “policy” is. They can’t “change” anything that isn’t in the policy upfront, meaning there was a clause applicable to co-pay changes. Maybe he didn’t read it or understand it, but it was there. Public health care plans around the world operate almost completely free of any contract with citizens, meaning you really are at their mercy…No contract whatsoever.
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  • BBC: Marc, In European countries where they have nationalized healthcare, he would get his meds. Of course he read his contract. They sent him his new policy AFTER he paid to renew by phone after being assured he was renewing the same policy with no changes. Even if he did not, it is wrong for companies to kill their clients out of greed. This isn’t an isolated incident many families who have members are falling through the crack just like this. AND my friend doesn’t give a rats ass about your sympathy – he just wants to li by the live. He has a case to sue but he will likely be gone by then…
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  • EH: ‎@ MF~ It depends on the government now doesn’t it. In the UK my drug co-pay is the equivalent of a one time payment of $165 for the year. That’s for any and all meds I might need. Cost of any doctor visits, MRI, CT scans, or whatever else … zero! @ Beth ~ I’m really sorry about the state of things with your friend. Contrary to what MF says insurance companies do find all kinds of ways to cheat people regardless of what’s in their contract with you. It’s a vile industry and they lie! People should not have to die or go bankrupt because they are ill.
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  • MF: Why would he get his meds in European countries, where they DON’T even approve current U.S. drug treatments for something as “common” as CANCER???

    And I’ve seen the UK plan in action, Elizabeth, it’s no where near what you’re telling us. The waiting list, and number of approved treatments isn’t even in the same ballbark as treatments available in the U.S. But if it’s so good, then Beth’s friend should hop a plane and get treated for free…They do that over there, don’t they? You know, like we do for Mexican citizens here.
    OH!!! And BTW…You all are apparently going broke faster than us! What happens to your plan then? Guess you’ll just have to riot some more…
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  • MF:  ‎”People should not have to die or go bankrupt because they are ill.”
    That statement sums up so much…It really says it all.
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  • EH: M ~ You have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to care in the UK! I live here, you don’t, and I’ve seen the plan in action here as well as in the US. I lived with the US healthcare system for 48 years and worked in it as well so I do know a great deal about it. You’re spouting the same crap people like Limbaugh and Beck do to mislead the masses who are too scared or ignorant to discover the truth on their own. You appear to be cut from the same blowhard bullying cloth of misinformation that L & B come from … as least you share the same communication style. Loud, condescending, and obnoxious, with a total lack of empathy or compassion for others … I think that about describes your approach to difficult topics.
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  • MF: And so what do all those insults make you. Stay brainwashed. Here’s an easy way to “prove” which one of us is right.

    Where does the world turn for health care? Cuba, Venezuela, Great Britain…HA! I’ve been in our system 47 years so I’measy qualified to challenge this myth. As for your English system and the bureaucracy of the government system…An oldie but goodie that shows just how these bureaucrats run a system:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1579010/AandE-patients-left-in-ambulances-for-hours.html
    And you still can’t come up with an answer about being broke. What’s going to happen to health care when your people finally rape the last wealthy citizen? What happens to all that “free” stuff then?
    As I said many times…If ignorance is really bliss, the Left hails from Eden.
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  • EH: No insults, just fact … you showed your colors, I called you on it, simple as that. It’s funny how you can say all that you do in the way that you do and tell me I’m insulting to you! Right! The UK is actually in a much better financial position than the US right now, but it’s not just about US versus UK dollars, most of the world’s economy is in a bad way. I didn’t address it because we were discussing healthcare, the insurance industry, and why you were giving misinformation as if it were a fact. As for your link, I could counter with many from the US including all day waits in the ER’s of America where people died waiting to be seen. No system is perfect, but this one works well most of the time. I can also talk of how I’ve seen air ambulances land in fields in our village to take men in their 80′s to the hospital for a heart attack or a teenage girl who fell off her horse … cost to the patient, nothing. We pay taxes here to support the NHS and it’s not the huge tax numbers that Limbaugh, Beck, and others claim. It’s no more than I ever paid in the US, taxes are just allocated differently in the UK. Medical care is not a big money-making enterprise in the UK, it’s designed to take care of the people, not make them slaves to high premiums and a false sense of security. Now, we’ve cluttered Kimberly’s wall with more than I’d like to admit, so feel free to have the last word. I’m done! My apologies to Kimberly for such a public display in her space.
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    MF: No facts; only arrogance. The first defense of the Left for almost a Century. Play it to someone else. You got called, and your refusals answer all I needed to know. Thanks…It was a kick…Don’t break anyone’s windows while enjoying the weekend.

Funny how he keeps bringing up the recent riots over here. Does he have a point or am I just supposed to shut my mouth and concede defeat because he thinks he’s clever?

What I Wanted To Say Yesterday, But Didn’t

Yesterday I wrote a post about turning desperation into inspiration. It was actually a watered down version of what I originally wrote and then edited away thinking as I pressed delete that I had no right to sit on my comfy couch, in a home that I had little fear of losing, with plenty to eat and thanks to the NHS, no worries about my healthcare needs, and talk about what I thought people should be doing to change their thinking, and their lives.

I felt so safe compared to those who actually inspired the post that I honed it to the bone and took out all the personal references to myself and my family and sent out a shadow of what it once was to my readers.

It never felt finished and I debated back and forth as to whether I might take it down altogether until I read this piece by Caitlin Kelly.

Somehow she managed to say what I could not and it’s so much of what I was thinking that I can’t help but wonder if there’s some great cosmic thread that runs through our thoughts.

About an hour ago I received a ping back that led me to her site letting me see that she had linked to my post from yesterday. After reading her post ‘Break The Rules Already!’ I found the courage to come back and complete my own.

So much of what she said was similar to what running through my head, but I didn’t feel entitled to say. I wasn’t brave enough to put it out there because my life bears no resemblance now to those I was really writing it for.

My post was intended for the ‘We Are the 99 Percent’ folks whose faces and stories stayed with me long after seeing them posted by friends on Facebook.

I felt so bad reading about their daily desperation and lack of hope that I began to hide them … clicking them away on Facebook while feeling almost guilty as my life feels so luscious and good now.

I didn’t want to talk about the poor years, the public housing, or free government cheese that I remember as a small child.

I didn’t want to talk joining the Army so I could take care of myself or not wanting to burden my dad and step-mom with my education when they had a four-year old at home.

I didn’t want to talk about how many jobs I worked after the army to get through college or how I passed on things I would have enjoyed like football games and anything else that cost money or took hours away that needed to be spent working.

I didn’t want to mention the debt that came from an uninsured accidental pregnancy and how many years it took to pay that off while paying off student loans or the melanoma that grew because I couldn’t afford to have a suspect mole removed when was still just a suspicious spot that would later grow into cancer.

I didn’t want to talk about when my five year-old daughter and I lived in a house with a hole in the roof large enough that the rain poured in so fast it would fill a five gallon container and spill over to the floor too quickly to empty it.

I didn’t want to talk about when we lived on a $100 dollars a week.

It’s hard to say I’ve been there when you’re not anymore and someone else still is. It’s even tougher to say, ‘This is a chance to find a new way’ when all people can talk about are the old ones that no longer work.

Reading the stories of all who are struggling makes me want to shout … don’t give up, find another way, find each other, come together, rethink what you know and begin again!

When the roof let water into the only home we had and the cost to repair exceeded my ability to pay, I climbed into the attic and built a drainage system to divert the water outside before it could spill through the ceiling below. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.

I had no carpentry skills and no background on drainage systems or roof repair, but I had a need and I had imagination.

That’s what I wanted to say yesterday, but didn’t.

Should This Be Addressed To You?

Swimming In Late September Sunshine At Lundy Beach

Mother nature is having a last bit of fun with us these days when it comes to summer weather and John and I have been outside soaking up as much possible to tide us over through the winter rain and grey days to come.

Flowers and plants that normally bloom in the spring and early summer are a bit confused and we’ve seen color that is usually fading or long gone by now popping back out. I’ve even seen buttercups along the way and you know how I feel about those happy spots of sunshine.

We’ve been so busy going and doing that I’ve neglected to do much writing and even email seems like a bit of effort so if you’re waiting to hear from me, please forgive my tardiness because we have another glorious day waiting to be explored.

We spent one afternoon at an almost empty Lundy beach. Only thirteen miles from our front door, we couldn’t resist a trip to get a bit of the soft sand between our toes.

It didn’t take long before John slipped out of his clothes and into a pair of swim trunks. I thought the water was a bit chilly for swimming, but I did a fair amount of wading and exploring while he was enjoying the water.

There were loads of mussels everywhere making us think of food long before it was time for dinner. I don’t eat mussels, but I have seen John work his way through more than a few bowls. It’s usually when we’re traveling so I always associate it with a sweet memory.

 I think I was saying, ” The beach, the water, I need to go in for a swim … “

This look is about pure joy. I was so happy to be having this experience with John. The day was stunning and we were on a huge stretch of beach with only a couple of other people who were mostly tucked away behind their bit of rock making it feel like a private beach.

I think the look on my face tells you all you need to know about why I didn’t go for a swim too. The water was just a bit chilly for my southern blood. I’m more used to the tepid bathtub temps of Florida and there was no way I was going in without a wetsuit.

That didn’t mean I couldn’t play in the surf a bit though and I caught a wave that drenched my backside a bit before going off to explore a little more of the rocky caves along the beach.

I was trying to show John how wet my shorts were, but they look dryer here than they actually were.

  Here’s a shot of John swimming in the sea. Brave man!

There were two dogs who came a bit later that were darling to play with … they loved the beach and were chasing balls and playing with me before the woman they came with went off to a more secluded area to sunbathe and took them with her.

Here’s a cave sort of place I found with walls that became light green the farther in you went.

You can see a bit of the green wall in this photo.

  John took this of me as I was wading back in for a second look.

The water was deeper in some places and I could have gone farther into the cave had I been willing to get wet.

 This one shows you more of the green walls which John thought were probably slate.

   Mussels!

After we dried off and John changed back into his clothes, we climbed up onto the coast path and finished our afternoon at Lundy with a short walk of about half a mile back to our car.

The reentry views are just as pretty as the beach ones and time spent along the coast path is always worth the trip.

October may be here, but it looks and feels like a spring morning so we’re off in a bit to be good stewards of this lovely day. It would be a shame to waste it on laundry and other chores so things that “need” doing will just have to wait.

Now if I can find my wetsuit …

Building A Bridge – Book By Book

Artist Under The Respryn Bridge - Cornwall

Some people are natural bridge builders. They see an obstacle and look for ways to overcome it. Sometimes they work alone and sometimes they come together to do a greater good. There’s a lot of chat on the internet now about a book that can save lives. It’s a collection of essays from a few people I read regularly and a good many more that are new to me.

More important for me than the 62 essays is the collective idea that by working together, we can make a change. Some days you need a reminder that the world is bigger than your little part of it. Some days you need a bridge.

Take a second to read what Brené Brown has to say, she may be part of the bridge’s foundation, but you can still be a stone in the arch that supports it.

Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.

“But which is the stone that support the bridge?” Kublai Khan asks.
“The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,” Marco answers, “ but by the line of the arch that they form.”

Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Eventually, the Great Khan adds: “ Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me!”

To which Polo retorts: “Without stones there is no arch”

~ Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”