Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

On the whole…

Monday, May 9th, 2022

I’d rather be a door than a doormat.
After all, who wants to be stepped on and left to display everyone else’s dirt?

A door, now…
A door can be opened to fresh ideas, sunny smiles, and even to a skinned knee that needs attention.
Or it can be firmly closed against those who would drag you down or cause you pain or suck the spirit from you.  Yes, a door is meant to be closed against the meany people.

Doors and doormats, though, don’t get to choose how to behave.  It’s preordained.
We, on the other hand, have free will.  Aristotle said so, though learned men have argued about that ever since.  Still… how we act in certain situations merits pondering.

  Doncha think so?

Why I used to read the local news…

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

1960s Political Cartoon

Operable words:  “used to.”  Until recently — actually, until yesterday’s issue — our local paper was the one bright spot in the vast field of journalistic endeavor that makes itself available weekly, daily, even minute-by-minute via every intrusive vehicle the communication world has yet imagined.  But yesterday, though the newspaper arrived online, in my email, and in my post office mailbox, I could find very little to read with any sort of appreciation.

Take the news about the bond failure.  On the face of it: good news to me.  But as I read the reporter’s account and found that he mentioned “Ocean Beach School”… that was the end of my appreciation.  If a seasoned reporter cannot keep the names of our four schools straight, how accurate is the rest of his reporting???   And when one of the voters’ concerns was specifically the importance of community schools, just which community is the Ocean Beach School in, anyway?  I mean how hard is it to remember that it’s Ocean Park School, located in a community of that same name.  (Or did I miss yet another name change in our area?)

1960s Political Cartoon

And then that whole Cold War “Fallout Shelter” and “Dark Bunker” stuff in the “Peninsula Life” Section?  It’s probably just me, but I lived through all of that in the 1960s.  It was stressful then and I don’t find reliving it informative or useful or less stressful now.  We learned nothing from those years, as far as I can tell, except how to stir the pot and get the public upset enough to further support the war machine.  But that’s just me… an old lady wondering what progress, if any, we’ve made in my 86-year-long lifetime.

1960s Political Cartoon

Until now, I’ve always found the Observer a breath of fresh air.  It reminds me that there are many wonderful people doing remarkable things in our small corner of the world.  It even leads me to believe that we are not alone — that other rural areas (and even pockets of the metro areas) share many of our positive values and their residents work hard to keep focused on what they can do to help their neighbors and make things better right here at home.

Perhaps I’m just going through a bad patch and missed the good news.  I hope that’s the situation — or, worst case scenario, that the Observer, itself, was having a bad week.


Living Inside An M.C. Escher Painting Or…

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Escher Staircase

Sometimes I feel that I am living inside a vortex — a strange whirlpool of force like the one in Oregon where “The House of Mystery” has been attracting visitors since the 1930s.  Or maybe our old house is actually an M.C. Escher lithograph or woodcut.  Especially our dining room.  And if you have ever been here, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.

Partly, it’s that the floor slants rather sharply to the northwest.  It’s not a problem with the floor joists or with the foundation.  Not exactly.  We’ve had our underpinnings checked and rechecked.  It’s that our foundation, once as firm as could be, is built on the shifting sands of this Peninsula sandspit we call home.  Drop a pencil on the south side of the dining room and it travels neatly toward the north side of the kitchen — sometimes stopped by the threshold between the two rooms, sometimes not, depending upon the shape of the implement and the momentum it picks up enroute.

House Of Mystery in Gold Hill, Oregon

Today we had a new vortex experience.  The  Cranberry Museum had ordered 18 of my Arcadia Oysterville books and I brought them from the storage area into the dining room and stacked them on the table.  Two piles of nine books each.  But one pile was clearly an entire book higher than the other.

I recounted.  Nine books in each pile.  So I left them there until my Business Manager (that would be Nyel) had time to write up an invoice.  As he wheeled his chair by the table, he said to me: “You’ve only got 17 books there.”  And a discussion ensued, culminating in several countings and re-stackings.  No matter how we divided the eighteen, the stacks were never even in height.  Period.

Optical Illusion?

We considered that the paper used for some of the books (in a different print run?) might be of a thinner quality.  But… no.  Or that pages had been inadvertently left out of some books.  No again.  It was the Vortex Effect, pure and simple.  Even though the table looked level and even though we put the stacks in different spots on said table, two piles of an equal number of books was never the same height.  Vortex, I tell you.

And no wonder I am often half a bubble off!  Or more.

It’s Dreaded Income Tax Day!

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Remembering Oscar Madison of “The Odd Couple” on Income Tax Day

Well, it used to be one of those dreaded yearly milestones — staying up late the night before, crossing every T and dotting every I and making sure to get your return in the mail and postmarked before midnight on the 15th of April.  No one asked for extensions in time in those days.  We didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves and risk being audited.

I don’t remember exactly when that entire “Income Tax Scenario” began to change.  Maybe about the time that H and R Block started in 1955.  At least that’s the first place I remember going to for help with all those forms and reports.  Or maybe the dreaded income tax just didn’t seem so onerous by the 1960s and ’70s when government agencies of one kind or another began to permeate our existence.

This year, with Nyel in the hospital for almost an entire month just before April 15th, we didn’t give any of it a thought.  We contacted our CPA and asked her to file for an extension and have slept easy right through last night.  On the other hand, there was an excise tax payment due to the State of Washington for the few books that I’ve sold at retail this year.  Nyel always takes care of that online — easy-peasy.

But yesterday, even the Help Line Lady at the State Revenue Office could NOT help us out.  It was a computer mess-up with repeated  lock-outs to our information.  Frustrating to the max.  Fortunately, the Help Line Lady ran into the same techie difficulties we did and filed for an extension on the spot — the downside being more hours with someone on the phone today trying to figure out what went wrong with the computer algorithm.  Nyel is truly a saint!

So… if you are in a similar circumstance due to the dreaded April 15th date, you have our greatest sympathy.  This too shall pass.

The cost of satisfaction: $5.00!

Thursday, April 7th, 2022

You may remember that on March 7, 2022 — exactly one month ago today — I wrote this in my Oysterville Daybook blog:
1:00 – 3:30 — Composed a letter to the Head of the Billing Department at OHSU outlining my frustration with their failure to submit our claim to Blue Cross.  (See yesterday’s blog: “It’s the principal of the thing.”)  I sent copies of said letter to the President of OHSU (at friend Steve’s suggestion) as well as to each of the eight Directors who sit on the OHSU Board, as listed on their website.  (They cleverly include no phone numbers.  But we’ve played that hurry-up-and-get-disconnected-game with OHSU before so no matter…)

With the original letter to the Head of Billing, I attached a $40 check to pay the “bill” that I did not owe so that I would not be turned over to small claims court.  I had no expectations of getting a response but, in fact, within a week or so I did hear from someone in their Customer Relations Department saying that she was “looking into the matter” and to expect a response as to her findings within thirty days.

What I received last week was a check from OHSU, made out to me,in the amount of $40 with this generic note attached:  We are refunding an overpayment on your account for medical services at OHS.  The overpayment occurred due to over collection of patient payments.  Should you have any questions, please call our customer service department at (503)494-8760.

“Overpayment” my ass!  That was NOT the issue.  But, never mind.  They finally submitted my claim to my secondary insurance company which was all I had expected them to do in the first place.  As I figure it, I’m only out the postage on the ten letters I sent and, by rights, they should reimburse that, too!! But I am SO done with them, I could care less.

And here endeth some sort of lesson — for whom, I’m not sure!

Report from Oz – Day Three

Saturday, March 12th, 2022

Well, wouldn’t you know it?  The spiffy free shuttle service from my Residence to Nyel’s Home-Away-From-Home doesn’t operate on the weekends!  So annoying!  It’s not like I don’t have wheels available seven stories below me in the parking garage.  And it’s not like I couldn’t get a taxi or Uber.  Or even walk the 1.8 miles to Nyel’s hospital bedside…

But… after an extensive consultation with the patient by telephone, we decided to just let things percolate this weekend — me vegging at this end and he concentrating on getting better at his end.  His team of doctors are also off-duty today and tomorrow, so it’s a good time for Nyel to focus all systems — voluntary and involuntary — on improving his situation.

The only overnight news was that he actually gained a little weight yesterday.  Boo!  Hiss!!  Let’s hope that pining away for me nips any trending in that direction in the bud, immediately!!!  The goal is to get the fluid and attendant poundage off — not the other way around!

Otherwise — the only news from Oz is that the power here at my Residence went off for a few minutes this morning.  I wondered briefly if that meant the elevators were also inoperable and if the fancy-schmancy door locks that work by magic card-wands were also dead in the water.  Was I stuck in a dark room on the fifth floor indefinitely?  BUT… the TV was still working!  Go figure.

And about then… the lights were back.  (Carol wrote that the power was out in Oysterville for a brief time last night, too.) Do you think Mrs. Crouch was looking for us?  Did she find me this morning here in Oz and has she settled in with me for the duration?  Stay tuned.  Perhaps we’ll know more soon…

Hats Off to Nansen Florals!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

Party at Gordon & Roy’s, 2001

When I heard last year that Marcia was retiring and her Artistic Bouquets was closing, I was just a tad concerned.  For years they had been the only florist on the Peninsula — the outside world’s big connection to us on birthdays and Mother’s Day and other special occasions.  All during the ’90s they supplied the Bookvendor with fabulous weekly arrangements.  They delivered the balloons for the 16 years of Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Galas, to say nothing of several of Gordon and Roy’s Parties.  Whatever would we do without them?

But, before their doors had been closed and latched, we heard that it was Nansen Malin to the rescue!  Not that she thought of it that way, I’m sure.  But the timing was perfect.  She was starting her business, Nansen Florals, just at the right time — and in just the right place:  the Carriage House that is on her property in Seaview.  Fortuitous to the max.

Nansen’s Business Card

So I wrote Charlie and Marta, gave them the contact information, and hoped for the best.  When my birthday came around at the end of last month, I was not disappointed.  In fact I was thrilled!  Two bouquets — equally gorgeous but as different as night and day.  When Nansen delivered the second one she said, “You won’t be able to choose which you like best.  Just as with your children, equally beloved no matter how different.”  Such a fabulous thought.  And she was right, of course, on all counts.

But, there remains one small mystery.  I must ask Marta about it.  Although the little envelopes and cards for each bouquet were identical, Charlie’s was the standard greeting “from him” by the florist.  On the other hand, Marta’s was made out to “Sydley, Oysterville” in her handwriting and using her nickname for me.  And inside, also in her handwriting, was written:  Dear Sydley, Wishing you a very Happy Birthday filled with Love & Laughter!  And cake, lots of cake!  (Or whatever your sweet tooth fancies)!!  I am so blessed and grateful you are my “bonus Mom” as you have enriched my life in so many waysl  Love you much, Rooners.

The Envelope From Marta

How in the world did Marta manage that?  She must have contacted Nansen days and days ahead and the card/envelope must have traveled back and forth between Seaview. WA and Corte Madera, CA several times!  Service over and beyond, I say!  It seems we are in fine floral fettle once again here at the Beach!

It’s the principal of the thing…

Sunday, March 6th, 2022

A few months back, I received a bill from OHSU for $40 for an eye refraction. (See “Around and Around We Go” – my blog of January 22nd this year).  For forty years, perhaps longer, my Blue Cross insurance has paid for my eye examinations.  But, suddenly OHSU will not submit the $40 claim from the Casey Eye Institute.  Instead, they are billing me.

“Medicare does not pay for eye exams and, therefore, no other insurance companies will either.”  That’s what we have been told by the OHSU Billing Department over and over.  It is a bald-faced lie.  Nyel, who has the same insurance  as I do (in fact he is ON MY POLICY),  just had his vision exam paid for by Blue Cross last fall.

We have repeatedly asked OHSU to submit this claim to my Blue Cross insurance. We have repeatedly checked with Blue Cross and have found that OHSU has not done that. On Friday, ever-patient-Nyel again called the OHSU Billing Department.  Again I heard him say, “They cannot pay the claim if you refuse to submit it.  May I please speak to your supervisor?”

Hour after hour he stayed on the phone asking for yet the next supervisor and being told the party line until… someone would have to call him back.  That didn’t happen Friday and probably won’t happen Monday.  Our friend Steve says, call the President of OHSU and sent us the contact information for the President of OHSU, Dr. Danny Jacobs, as well as for members of the OHSU Board of Directors.   Nyel says he’ll try calling a few of them.

Meanwhile, I am asking myself if jeopardizing my credit rating is worth the forty bucks.  I have until the 9th to pay this bill before OHSU turns it over to a collection agency.  Doncha just hate bureaucracy?  Do they look at my personal information, see that I am an 86-year-old woman and just stick it to me?  Has my Blue Cross plan been mistakenly paying for my eye exams for the last forty years or so?  These are the burning questions that keep me awake into the wee hours.  And why is it that the OHSU Billing Department hires only people who cannot or will not deviate from a script which has no relevance to the caller’s concerns?

Dr. Ego Redux

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

In my mind we were done with Dr. Ego.  As in over and out.  But Nyel did dutifully report to Dr. Trusted — his cardiologist in Seattle who had been hoping that Nyel could find a “back-up” doctor here.  Someone who would be closer in case of an emergency.  Since Dr. Ego had not been contacted directly by Dr. Trusted and we were apparently at a stalemate, Nyel asked Dr. Trusted if he would call.  And yesterday afternoon, apparently, Dr. Trusted talked to Dr. Ego and, in short order, the following things happened:

  • Dr. Trusted’s assistant called Nyel to say that the two doctors had decided that the Astoria hospital was not up to the complications of Nyel’s situation, should he need “back-up” in certain situations.  And, btw, the EKG that Dr. Ego’s team gave Nyel revealed that his heart is no longer in Sinus (normal) rhythm; it is now in A-Fib (Atrial Fibrilation).
  • Dr.Ego’s assistant called Nyel and said that she wanted him to increase the amount of a certain meditation to 5 milliequivalents  daily.  I heard only Nyel’s  response:  I already take 600 milliequivalents of that med every day!” (Did he raise his voice just a tad?)  And when the assistant said she’d check back with Dr. Ego, Nyel said (and, this time, definitely in an elevated tone) “And would you ask her why no one bothered to tell me that I am in A-fib???” 
  • Wonder of wonders, Dr. Ego, herself, soon called and said that the assistant had gotten the meds mixed up — it was this med not that med. (Isn’t there something about a professional taking the blame for the mistakes of their worker-bees and NOT passing the buck?)  And, the reason, Dr. Ego claimed, that she had not mentioned that Nyel was in A-fib was because he had been in A-Fib before.  SAY WHAT???

So, by that logic, if a test revealed that the patient had cancer and if he had suffered from cancer in the past, the doctor would not bother to mention it the new situation????   And why was she still trying to dink around with his meds if she can’t be his back-up doctor (at least not all of the time) because the hospital isn’t up to it (in at least certain situations)????

I really have no more words on this subject…


Older But Probably No Wiser

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

Bad planning on our part — that’s what is was.  We definitely should have taken a day after my birthday for that new bit of wisdom to arrive.  You know.  That old “older and wiser” adage that we grew up to believe in. But we didn’t wait and, if it did arrive, we didn’t notice.

It was a Tuesday — one of the “every other” Tuesdays when we go across the river to do errands.  Yesterday we had three on this side, on our way, and four on the other side.  Seven.  Count ’em:  OBH Lab Work (for Nyel), Post Office, Library, Doctor (for Nyel), Liquor Store (for me), Fred Meyer’s,  and Gas.

Had I waited for Wisdom to show up, I’d have bagged most of those.  As it was, when the doctor (we’ll call her Dr. Ego for now) tried to blow Nyel off for the third time in three weeks — not showing up for the appt. but sending 1st a nurse assistant; 2nd, the assistant AGAIN; and yesterday her Physician’s Assistant… I finally had a Great Big Noisy Fit.  Even Nyel said (calmly), “We are outta here.”

But before he could re-button his shirt, nurses and assistants and goodness-knows-who-all raised the alarm apparently and, amazingly,  Dr. Ego, herself, showed up!  She made no eye contact with me, you betcha.  (Forget what they tell you about being a patient advocate!  You actually have NO status whatsoever.)  She spoke only with Nyel, blamed his cardiologist in Seattle for her behavior, etc. etc. Unbelievable.  The situation is not resolved.  Meanwhile, Nyel is stuck in the middle and needing… well, never mind.  Stay tuned.

By the time we got home and got the groceries stowed, we were both too tired to think about dinner.  Jeopardy was pre-empted by the State of the Union and related messages.  We decided we were too tired for any of it, took our books and a cup of tea and were off to bed.  (So maybe Wisdom did finally arrive after all!)