Sunday, March 5, 2017


Most of last week looked and felt like spring. All of the snow melted, and birdsong filled the mornings. Then, on Friday winter returned with snow squalls, high winds and bitter cold temperatures. It's still pretty cold out today, but we'll be back in the 40°s and 50°s over the next few days--balmy temps compared to yesterday's 12°.

Our employee based health insurance (through COBRA) runs out this week, so I've had to enter the labyrinth of that nasty dragon known as the Massachusetts Health Connector--the state's health insurance "market place". I won't bore you with the horror of the experience, beyond saying that this monster is even worse than anything you may have heard about it. The thing is, "in the old days" we could have gotten group health insurance through the Builder's Association since my husband's business is part of that industry. But, to appease the dragon, the government has made it The Law of The Land that one must obtain health coverage through the "state market place". I put this term in quotes because a) in a market there are many competitive options, and b) the Health Connector's customer service department is made up of call centers located in other states.  But I digress... We must now pay the dragon a monthly tithe that is double the cost of the insurance we had with my husband's former employer. In return, we will escape heavy government fines and imprisonment. That is all. We will not receive health care; there are no doctors who accept the dragon's pitiful terms. If you think I am kidding, then it is because you have never had to enter the labyrinth.

My next task of the month is to untangle the depressing mess that is our complicated tax situation. I expect sleepless nights and stomach pain--fun times!

March makes me feel like Elvis looks in that last picture.

I do not believe in silver linings or lottery tickets (the lottery is just another shitty state entity that takes money from the people it has made desperate) or that "everything will turn out fine."

I do believe in:
Cookies and cinnamon buns. My gram died when I was twenty-one, and I have been craving her chocolate chip cookies ever since. It turns out they were the Original Toll House Cookie recipe! Can you believe it? I've tried many different chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, but never the original recipe. They are the best. I'm in heaven. :)  Daughter number two made cinnamon buns from this recipe, and they were amazingly luscious, soft, fluffy, and cinnamony.
The power of pets to lift the veil of artifice that surrounds modern life and to connect us to what's Real. We are crazy lucky, because we have dogs, a cat, a rabbit, guinea pigs, a snake, fish, chickens, and parakeets to love. We were especially lucky this week because: 
         1) Emmeline bought herself a baby budgie she named "Alfie". He's a gorgeous violet and 
             yellow male that she has already managed to hand-tame. We have hopes that he will learn to
         2) A section of fencing fell down in the wind and our Presley (boxer-dog) followed his nose out 
             of the yard and on an adventure through the neighborhood. We are so grateful that he did not 
             get hit by a car down on the busy road. 

The goodness and generosity of my children. Daughter number one surprised me with a skein of  gorgeous 100% BFL sock weight yarn from Adelaide Cottage in the "Cherry Cordial" colorway and a tiny silver pine cone progress keeper. The package arrived beautifully packaged in a polka dot bag and wrapped in tissue. Shauna even tucked a bag of Red Rose caramel apple tea inside. This gift lifted my spirits and made me really happy in the midst of a difficult week. 

The ideas of people who see beyond the propaganda of the corporate media machine. As a lifelong registered democrat, I never thought I would see the day when I would take back my membership, declare myself an independent, and stop watching the news, but here we are. Neo liberalism is neo conservatism without the smirk--and evil is evil whether it comes in the guise of republican or  democrat. We, as a people, are being massively manipulated these days. This is short and worth the read, as is this. This is long, but worth listening to--even if you disagree--if for no other reason than to hear John Waters' Irish lilt.

The constancy of nature.  The red-winged blackbirds are back and the robins. I saw a flock of white-throated sparrows in the woods. And pussy willows. : ) 

Manual writing.  It's a wholly different thing from what comes out when you sit at a keyboard and computer screen. For one thing, it lends itself to doodles, illustrations, and other marginalia. I love the scratch of pens and pencils on paper. I also love my old Hermes 3000 manual typewriter that is currently stationed on my kitchen island for quick "walk by" notes. Try this for a week and see what happens: fill one page every day. With anything. Stories, verses, thoughts, ideas, sketches, dried flowers, feathers, stickers, sequins, maps, quotes, poems. Don't try to make a product, just open yourself to being true. In a week, see what you've got: where you've been and where you might go next. 

If you get the chance, spend some time this week with someone soft and furry. It will help you to love those who are less soft.

Until next week. ♥


  1. Susan, how about one of those non-insurance groups? My brother just dropped his health insurance and has gone with Samaritan. Look on Leila's blog and search for Samaritan insurance - you'll get two thorough posts on it with lots of comments.


    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you for sharing this with me. I read the posts on Leila's blog and got very excited. Unfortunately, when I looked into it, my family does not qualify due to preexisting conditions. Several of my children have a rare genetic bone disorder, and I have asthma. None of us have been symptom free for five years, which is the criteria for membership used by this Christian cost-sharing group. :(

  2. Darling Susan, at some point I must have seen that you moved to a new site, because you are on my Google Reader, but I don't remember it at all! So this is a nice surprise. (I have become so irregular with my blog reading).

    I am so sorry about your insurance woes. I can't imagine what it must be like. To pay all that money and have no health care from it! Really, its despicable. I agree with you that all politicians regardless of stripe seem to be part of a great corrupt machine, a monster indeed.

    But you have the right priorities. And such a gorgeous typewriter! How I envy you! I have been looking everywhere for one in reasonable condition for which I might be able to get ribbon, so it would actually work. They are exceedingly rare here. I miss so much being able to use a good manual (or even electric) typewriter. I can't do hand writing because of fibromyalgia, and really it is true that typing on a computer is bland.

    Many hugs to you and your family including pets!

    1. Goodness, my brain is a mess tonight. Google Reader! If only! I miss that so much. I meant Bloglovin, which is hopeless these days, cluttered and full of advertisements. Mind you, I only follow about half a dozen blogs any more, so I guess it hardly matters. Sorry for rambling on :-)

    2. Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for such a lovely comment! I just moved here (I think this is my second post). I, too, have become very irregular in my blog reading. My life has changed so much in the last two years. I'm still trying to find a path forward, you know?

      I hope you are able to hunt down a nice manual typewriter at a good price, as they are so much fun to write with--mine is in constant use. It is a 1967 Swiss Hermes 3000 and takes a "universal" ribbon that works with most old typewriters. I purchased it from an old man who was a journalist. Before he would sell it to me, he wanted to know why I wanted it. And I said, "I'm a writer." :)

  3. Oh, Susan. This is such a hard time of year. And it is in the midst of such a strange time. I have found myself wondering why it is that we live right now. I think some of us look for silver linings because it is a way of coping when things feel so heavy. I try to look for bright spots, and to make those cookies you love. It's the only recipe I use--it's also in the Betty Crocker Cooky Book. I'd for vote a non-insurance group, too, or just an investigation of them. I don't know all their nuances. I pray that something sorts itself out soon. Taking your advice, we took time to admire the chicks at the farm store and to watch a squirrel and woodpecker on the roadside.


    1. Hi Brandy,

      Thank you for kind, thoughtful comment. Yes, it is a hard time of year! I'm sure that's why I'm struggling just now. I do try to stay positive, but also realistic, as some things are just bad. I looked into the cost-sharing group that Lisa mentioned (and a few others) but none of them take preexisting conditions. Nature, baking, and making are comforters like nothing else, aren't they?

  4. I wish I knew anything at all about insurance, but I'm chewing my nails knowing I have to tackle medicare next year. I procrastinate simply because of what you are talking about - the massive monster that it all is.
    In the meantime, the little piglets are looking happy and healthy, and Alfie looks to be figuring out his place with style.
    THings have settled a bit in my world, and letters are on the way. . . .

    1. Hi Liz,
      Our country has got to come up with a better healthcare system! I'm so glad that things have settled some for you and your family. You are all in my prayers. A letter is on its way. ♥♥♥

  5. oh my, I wish I could give you some awesome health insurance, easily and cheaply. That kind of stuff makes me sad. Taxes!!! I have never ever done them I hate them so much, I hire a cpa. That is my big cop out and it works for me.

    That yarn is luscious and you have the best daughter ever to give you a lovely gift. awesome.

    I find I'm glued to news feeds that make me feel icky. I am happiest when I am detached and doing so is the tricky part. Being informed without the sense of hopelessness.

    1. Hi Karen,
      If I could afford a CPA I would hire one in a New York minute!

      I try not to follow the news at all these days. It's all such a big, ugly mess.

      I love your post about your trip to NYC last week! Gorgeous photos. ♥

  6. i simply can't imagine having to navigate the unholy mess that is your healthcare/insurance system. i can't get my head around why universal healthcare is such a taboo option (i know, we here in Canada are rampant socialists for partaking of such a thing ;)) I wish you great fortitude in your upcoming trials....i have to tackle the taxes this weekend and am not looking forward to it at all. :(

    nature and the furry people never fail to help you keep your perspective... :)


    1. Hi Mel,

      Oh, don't get me started! The U.S. healthcare system is unjust, archaic, and, unfortunately, a multi-TRILLION dollar industry. The sad thing is that *neither* political party is willing to move to a single-payer, universal system, because: who will get all that money???

      I hope you have good luck with your taxes.

      It's bitter cold and windy with LOTS of snow on the way. Bleh!


  7. ps. i too, feel like your Elvis was spring here last week and now it's blowing a hoolie and snowing...*sigh*