Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Social insecurity

our snowy house with the full moon  A few days later the snow was covered with a thick coat of ice which gave cool reflections but messed up other things

Naomi and Maya More of Maya thanks to more storms

my suet cake raider. Actually we have three of these travelling great distances in the winter. In the summer, they don't bother

Depot Town Ypsilanti  Went for a Happy Hour there

new addition to my doll wall

Wall art for my bedroom
Steve had been spending hours calculating and recalculating. When should we start taking social security? Our former financial person had already prepared us an elaborate spreadsheet but some factors have changed since then. Unknown: when are we going to die (this has moved up for me), are the payouts increasing and how much, will social security be raided to pay for some ego wall. One person can start collecting now and the other could get spousal benefits. Which one? Finally I agreed to look at all the possibilities (or some of them as the possibilities are endless) and decided on the original timetable that the advisor gave us.

If all goes well, this should be my last visit to the understaffed social security office ever though Steve will have to go back in a few years when he starts collecting on his own account. I did have to make a rush trip to them last year (right before I was to leave to Costa Rica) to correct some mistake THEY made or I wouldn't get Medicare (and would not have anything else so I couldn't ignore it) but this was not so time sensitive and we were tempted to go home when there was absolutely no where to park. Steve waited in the driveway while I got in line. The numbers were not sequential so one had no idea on the wait. They actually had an employee whose sole job was to make sure no one stood in the waiting room (not enough chairs) You could stand in the vestibule or sit outside (another frigid shitty day here) He did have another job: patrolling the parking lot to make sure there were not any illegal parkers (there were some empty employee only spots..surprisingly few handicapped spots). People would naively assume he was answer man but all he would say is get a number and no you can't stand here.  I would have guessed we would be some of the younger clients but most people seemed much younger than us. Finally after an hour our number came up. Our guy was helpful. What we needed? Our wedding license (all tattered up) and a routing number to send the money. We didn't need our birth certificates (they had them already) So this annoying job is done and we no longer have to worry whether our medicare payments have been lost in the mail (which has come up too many times!!!!) We celebrated with a rare lunch out. We used to go out all the time but ever since the Big Diet, I've been limiting that. You would think all the soup and salad you could eat would have been the most diet friendly option but when the soup is lobster bisque and a tasty version at that, all bets are off.  My big fear of all the weight coming back is a constant. Some of it annoyingly has come back but I still comfortably fit in the size 4s. Still I want to be back at my low. And then the next day I caved and had a slice of good homemade cheesecake at my friend's house and then Happy Hour...my weight started ballooning to scary heights, since reversed.

Still doing things that I only have time for while waiting out  this incredibly long winter like repairing jewelry and organizing closets. One day I will have a glue day to repair everything at once that needs gluing. I bought the glue...just have to get started. Dutch is much harder and less fun when I discovered that in clauses (and there are all sorts of clauses with different rules) word order is changed. So you have to decide whether you have a co-ordinating clause, subordinate clause or a relative clause signaled by various phrases. Now romance languages are starting to look easier though they have that nasty subjunctive set of verbs that one only uses in clauses but at least the syntax doesn't change. I am getting better at distinguishing words. And most people don't speak in clauses so I should be able to understand simple sentences, preferably spoken to me as if I am a toddler. In Italy, I usually could understand children given the simplicity of their language. Newscasters reading at warp speed the news was a different story.

The latest storm (Quiana,could we getting at the end finally?) was advertised well in advance. Maya would have a shortened stay up north which meant she'd be with us as Naomi works when she is gone. It fortunately came a few hours later than planned so very early sunday morning, it was calm and warm. I ran into  the direction of the wind. Still calm. And then a long put off (thanks crappy weather) bike ride heading into the wind. It was started to pick up and the temps dropping. By the end of the day, gale force winds and the temps 35 degrees below what they were in the morning. The winds howled for almost 24 hours but we still had power and didn't seem to have damage.

We started getting those subscription meals though I feel tricked into it. A friend offers a 'free' meal to try but they need your credit card and then I hear, good luck cancelling. I hate the tricky, dishonest marketing but we will try them for awhile though it is hard to believe it is cost effective and they seem like too much work. I had let Steve do the 'easy' one but took over when I found out how much slicing and dicing it involved (he is so bad at that).

In an advertisement of all things, I read that 25% of girls miss school because they don't have hygiene products at home. Could that be true? The advertisement said if you buy their products, they will donate so much to schools to maintain a supply for those in need. So will these girls have to go ask someone for a tampon? Or will they just keep a basket of them to be raided. Although I didn't have everything I always wanted or in some cases need (glasses were a luxury, I shouldn't have wrecked my eyes) I was supplied with those ridiculous pads in the days before adhesive strips were invented (or super absorbent materials). I was given a belt with metal nickel teeth to tenuously hold the pad (huge!!!) in place and lived in fear that the pad would come unattached. Also I had the cheap belt that didn't have the nice satin tab preventing the nickel (very allergic) from touching the skin. Careful folding of the pad ends could prevent contact but sometimes I ended up with contact dermatitis and once a secondary infection (impetigo of the nether regions..so much fun). Tampons could have prevented many of my worries but these were specifically not supplied nor were there directions on how to use them. Glad all that craziness is over. Now waiting for spring..impatiently.

Monday, February 18, 2019

the long winter

In the winter, the deer cross our yard in the evening. Usually there is no more than five but the other night 15 or so. I see from the hoof marks in the snow they have close to our house

I've killed more orchids than usual this year probably by overwatering Steve gave me this for Valentine's Day

And this balloon You can see my craziness in the background I put fairy lights over the screen

Winter drags on. Last night we were hit with another 5 inches of snow though the schools are closed anyway today. At least for the previous three days there was an almost clear path for me to run outside as long as I didn't mind 20 degree temps . I've been struggling to keep in a good mood. The smallest slights however unintentional put me near tears. The other day Steve finds me staring into space wondering what was wrong. I had been just disinvited from a Happy Hour. He wondered if we went out, maybe I would be happy so we did and it was nice.

We seem to have less birds these days. No titmice, no nuthatches, only a few pair of cardinals, no hairy woodpeckers, where are they? We do have squirrels traveling great distances to raid the suet cake and the 'squirrel-proof' feeder. Yep they always find a work around for that. Yesterday one was sitting on a tree branch separated only a few inches from me by glass. Suddenly it lunged but went smack into the window. Was it trying to attack me or maybe it looked like their might be food where I was.

And the news, I try to avoid listening. The country is being run by a tyrant with the emotions of a toddler. Just hope all the check and balances still work but he is only a symptom, not the disease itself.

Some nice times: a friend came over to share some wine. Good talks. And Allie and Josh came over the next day. Previous to coming here, they spent an hour in the park near us. As it was 20 degree and icy, they were the only ones there. That Allie is tough. I've been trying to tackle not fun jobs that I have no time for in the summer. Organized my closet, still learning Dutch..yes I know that everybody speaks English there.

We got a recall letter the other day for our almost 13 year old car. Apparently if the airbag ever deploys, it will spray with great force metal shrapnel in our faces. As this is dangerous, we were urged not to drive it and immediately have the dealer fix it. And when will that be?  The requisite part won't be in for at least 4 weeks. When have I ever had an airbag go off? Never but the day I received that, a woman from blogsphere that I meet up with was  t-boned at 60 mph which set off all her bags. She survived with relatively minor injuries despite the car doing cartwheels. So accidents can happen.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A house full of people

This photo is hanging on the wall outside of Maya's classroom. As her father's car died, I had to pick her up from school

My brother in law with two of the girls

Jet lagged nephew

Breakfast at noon. Very hard scheduling outside adventures with conflicting schedules and wake up times  so I tried to have as many meals at home

tried to brighten the place up with some tulips

Made an enormous baked apple pancake for one of our shut in days

coloring kids menus

all the grandbabies Allie is almost as tall as Maya despite being more than 3 years younger

All of us minus the brother in law and nephew who had left a day earlier though it took them a day to get home due to Seattle shutting its airport. They got to learn to abide Boise

She is getting better at reading but math is still a big problem
Have I mentioned how much I hate winter? Two more ice storms since I've last blogged: more days off of school so we are doing daycare. Ann Arbor is over the amount of snow days allowed by the state yet they are persisting with their midwinter break that starts tomorrow. There have been only a few days it has been possible to run outside so I hope I am doing enough exercise on the elliptical trainer downstairs with all my weights. Yes my geezer health plan allows a free membership at a cheap gym but with the roads being glare ice, I wouldn't be able to get to it.

A year ago today we were headed to sunny Costa Rica. Next year I will have more winter breaks!

So last week Steve's family flew in from Seattle so we had a full house plus Maya as her dad could not get her. For all those of you wondering why we have such a large house even though there is usually just two of us, it's for occasions like this as every bedroom was full, even our study plus the back up bed in the basement. And all our kids and their kids were here during the day and evenings so the house was full and noisy. Lots of cooking and cleaning on my part but it was fun. We did go out as did the kids without us on some of the evenings to spend time with their aunt. We had tea at a tea house, breakfast in downtown Ann Arbor and dinner out near Josh's. Hard to find tables big enough for us all. So with all the grandkids, kids and spouses I think we were 16.

In my spare time I continue to learn Dutch. What a strange language though at least its syntax is similar to English as opposed to the romance languages (I've studied Italian, French and Spanish) such as a simple sentence: I give it to him. In Italian it would be To him it give. But still the pronunciation is giving me problems with is silent 'g's. Van Gogh doesn't sound anything like it is pronounced here. It sounds more like someone clearing their throat.

I did spend several hours at a medical appointment. All I can say was that it was anxiety producing.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Polar Vortex redux

Miss Nala was spayed this week  She was not a fan of her new head attire

Finally got my long neglected hair done, a two person operation, three if you include Steve running out for supplies

Too light though at least the dreaded gray is gone. Will have to experiment more with the color tubes

Winter has hit us big time cancelling school for 6 of the past nine days. We had that blizzard last week. Then we had a small blizzard this past weekend cancelling schools. The next day found me driving on ice through heavy snow to take care of a sick Daniel so his mom could work. Most school districts cancel school if the wind chill is below twenty below. Presumably yesterday it was forty below with the absolute temperature being -19. So all government buildings were shut down plus no mail or garbage pick-up along with some businesses, notably the hairdresser supply place. My dentist still was open though so out I went. In between the two coldest days, an alarm starts blaring through the headphones I fall asleep with. I had shut off Amber alerts so what could I be? Imminent nuclear attack? No, a request to use less natural gas as a major supplier had a fire and the gas was running low. So factories shut down too.

 No running outside between the deep snow and then the below zero temps and strong winds. But in a few days it will be 50.

Just biding my time until spring.

Much to my chagrin, my hairdresser cancelled my hair appointment at the last minute and said it couldn't be rescheduled until at least two months. In an ideal world, she should have worked me in during the next week. She is the one that I drove 60 miles round trip for an appointment only to find her not there and quite unapologetic about her mistake. She is going through some stuff I guess but the late cancelling is the last straw.  My friend was a hair dresser before she became too sick to deal with clients but became quite excited at the prospect of being able to fix me and all the hair mistakes I apparently make. I had to bring her all my supplies, none to her liking. It took a long time for her to cut my hair with me being very aware how tiring this was for her. As she is cutting her exposure to chemicals, she couldn't dye my hair but ordered supplies and wrote out detailed instructions for Naomi to do it which Naomi did yesterday and then she styled it with my new tools.

I am trying to be useful. I did organize my closet and now I am learning Dutch in anticipation of a trip to the Netherlands in a few months. To get a degree in chemistry, I had to have a reading knowledge of German as much of the literature was written in it (no more!!). German is very complex with all its declensions. Sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between a direct object and an indirect object. Why would this be important? In chemistry, sometimes it is really necessary to know whether you are adding A to B or B to A. One misreading and you got an explosion. So far, Dutch looks like a cross between German and English with much simpler grammar and syntax than the former. However its pronunciation is giving me problems along with its spelling.

German: Ich bin eine Frau
Dutch: Ik ben een vrouw

Both are pronounced about the same though the German is more obvious


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