Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bonus Post - Rally to Restore Sanity

I wish I'd been there.  Monday's post will have a report from our National Correspondent, IntrepidCat, unless something fun comes up and she blows me off.  Til then, listen to John Stewart's speech at the Rally today.  If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, I excerpted my favorite sentences below the clip.

Stay sane, denizens. 

"We are in hard times - not end times"

"We can have animus without being enemies."

Our 24-hour-news-media-overload forces us into a situation where "we amplify everything and hear nothing."

"....the exhausting effort it takes to hate."

"The image of Americans reflected back at us by the media is false.... it's like looking in a fun house mirror."

And if you only want a minute or two to get the feel of it, go to 8:48 and watch the cars merge as you listen to Stewart explain how "we work together every damn day."  

It will make you feel better about America and Americans. 
At least it did for me.

Friday, October 29, 2010



created with the help of Mr. 5 & Mr. 7

And now for one I didn't create, but which makes me laugh out loud. Would that I had the nerve thought to do this: 

And finally, some interactive fun can be found at one of my favorite places on the web these days. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Insurance Will Cover It (Part II)

 I'm going to assume a certain knowledge of the facts for this post.

The bills have stopped pouring in.  I've been filling in the credit card information in the little boxes printed on the back of the invoices and using the return envelopes with the little glassine windows and some of the Heifer International return address labels and my self-stick Forever Stamps.... all feeling vaguely 20th Century in this era of on-line banking.  I can't remember the last time I wrote a check for anything.  

While the bills have stopped flooding the mailbox, the phone has been busily ringing.  Amidst the political robo-calls and surveys with obvious built-in biases today I received a call on behalf of the Billing Department of The Hospital.  Okay.... this bill has been in my house for 6 days.  Two of those days were Saturday and Sunday and for 3 of those days I was out of town.  They couldn't really think that the payment was overdue, could they?  And what did on behalf of mean, anyway?  Had they sent the bill to collections already?  

"Before we go any further, let me ask you something, Sir.  Are you in The Hospital's Billing Department?"  Yes, he was and he was only wondering if there might be a supplemental insurance policy which we had forgotten to provide during our visit to the ER and how was I planning to pay the remainder? 

Once I climbed off the ceiling, I was able to listen and hear him say that he was in no way trying to collect the bill at that moment (thought he'd take my credit card if I wanted to be done with it right then - which I did) but was only trying to help.  If I'd overlooked an insurance policy that might help me with the bill, he'd be glad to file the paperwork.  I took a deep breath - he was a very nice kid and it was obviously the script from which he was forced to read that was making me nutty - and I remembered the demographics in the ER that night.  We were the youngest people by a decade or so.  I was frantic and distracted; I can only imagine what I'll be like when I'm 80 and dealing with children pretending to be doctors and nurses who breeze in and breeze out without identifying themselves or asking permission to stick tubes and needles in the writhing patient.  I forgave the young man, said that there were no other insurances we could dun, and then was surprised to hear him ask me to detail my complaints about the care we'd received.  He typed, I talked.

Attitude, information systems glitches - these could be laid at the door of The Hospital and lay them there I did.  But as our conversation went on I had an epiphany.  We really hadn't needed the ER at all.  The primary care physician needed to see an x-ray and then, perhaps a CAT scan.  The fact that the urologist had done both two days before meant nothing.  Those results were in another office, owned by another practice and it was after 3pm and anyway they wanted their own and on and on. 

Had I thought to ask why we were being sent to the ER (I thought he was so sick that he needed immediate hospital based care because his symptoms were worsening and it might not be pneumonia) I hope I that I also would have had the presence of mind to make further inquiries regarding the use of the existing x-rays.  If the urologist was able to diagnose pneumonia when his area of expertise is somewhat lower in the human anatomy, then why wouldn't any competent radiologist be able to do the same?  If the pictures were available on-line (and why weren't they or couldn't they be made available that way since the urologist read them on his computer?) why couldn't a radiologist and the doctor in whose office we were sitting confer and diagnose and prescribe and send us home directly?  We used resources and spent time and money unnecessarily.  

If there's a better argument for streamlining the sharing of information I'd like to hear it.  For now, I'm sticking with this experience.

Given that there's a bias toward tried and true in our doctor's office (one of the many reasons we're leaving his practice) it's not surprising that this smooth flow of data does not exist.  The fact that he was willing to expose the patient to invasive rays rather than making an effort to obtain the test results directly makes us just a little nutty, now that we can look at it in retrospect. But still.... sending us to the Emergency Room? We were in his office, which exists in a kind of surreal zone of medical practitioners and the laboratories which support them; 3 miles of professional condominium suites and hospital units and lots and lots of x-ray and scanning machines spread in equal distances north and south of his suite.  Why didn't we go to one of those out-patient places?

I am glad that the patient was treated with IV antibiotics that night, but I wonder if he recovered $11,000 faster than he would have had the tests been read and the medicine prescribed that afternoon?  My hunch is - probably not.

So where does the responsibility for this debacle lie?  I'm referring to the enormous waste of time and energy utilized to diagnose a problem which didn't require the facilities of a hospital based emergency room.  Should I have questioned the suggestion that he go to the ER?  I don't think that I would want to be remembered as the woman who interfered with proper medical care.  On the other hand, would it have been inappropriate to wonder aloud about the reasoning behind the decision? 

Should there be a triage station outside the ER?  Broken bones and stopped hearts would go to the front of the line, but perhaps there ought to be a not-really-that-sick bay for those who are mistakenly sent to their doors.  What is the hospital's responsibility in this situation?  Do they need to do more outreach to the physicians in town, reminding them that other resources exist?  Or would that interfere with the hospital's bottom line? 

I realize that I am woefully ignorant about many things which attach themselves to this incident.  Are Emergency Rooms centers of profit or loss for a hospital?  Are the physicians employees or private contractors?  How did I let things spiral so far out of control?  One thing I know for certain - there has to be a greater level of trust than currently exists between the physician and this particular patient.  So much of what went on was frightening and fast and we were floundering because we didn't know what was going on, nor why.  I think that it's time to make the switch to G'ma's gerontologist - that 30-something Birkenstock wearing Blackberry toting 21st century caregiver.  That is one piece of this puzzle over which I have some control.
More will follow in this series - including a further dissection of the bill itself.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phone Books

The end of summer announces itself in a variety of ways here in Tucson.  Cars are driven with the windows lowered instead of with the air conditioning on high.  The gambel quail babies are now big enough to be seen foraging on their own, without their parents fore and aft, monitoring their brood.  School buses are everywhere, starting at 6:45 in the morning and stopping traffic until 5 or so in the evening.  Electioneering posters are crowded on every street corner, exhorting passersby to STOP something or RE-ELECT someone.  And phone books are delivered.  Lots and lots of phone books.

We got 5 of them at our house.  Tucson Pages and DEX and Yellow Book (but not the Yellow Pages) and two others whose titles I've forgotten.  They are dropped off underneath the mail box or in the middle of the driveway or propped against my little courtyard's even littler front gate, wrapped in their plastic bags to protect them from the elements.  There's been one up against the back gate of the 25 acre property across the street for the last two years.  The residents don't seem to use this entrance and so it sits there, 10 inches or so of decaying pages.  I often wonder why I don't just recycle it myself.  I have no answer to the question. 

They make their way into the house, though I don't know why.  One year I did deposit them straight into the recycling bin and no one seemed to notice the difference.  Last year I put them on the shelf in the closet in the library and was annoyed every time I needed the folders underneath them.  Why didn't I move the box of folders?  Again, I have no answer.

This year I recycled the old ones the same day I brought in the first of the new ones.  I set the intruder down on a ledge, and then the next one on top and the next few and there they sat, in a forlorn pile, for a week or so while TBG and I walked past them and looked at them and wondered why we did nothing about them. Then I thought I might use a picture of them for The Burrow, so we agreed that they would sit there until the next recycling day.  The day came and went before I got around to photographing them; they were irrelevant and eminently ignorable and they blended into the general level of piles around the house. TBG chose one of them and tossed the rest. 

And the next day I answered a telephone survey about phone books.  I'm telling you, they were everywhere.   The girl on the other end of the line wanted to know where I went when I needed to find a business - the internet or which of the 5 phone books I'd received?  Internet.  If I were to use a book, which one would I choose?  That was a tough one, since I had paid no attention to anything but how pretty it was.  I told her that and she knew just what I was talking about.  It made me feel better about myself, knowing I wasn't the first person who was so unobservant.  Then she asked what I've turned into an Escher drawing of a question: Did I have a phone book on my smart phone?   

I don't have a smart phone, so she thanked me and hung up, leaving me to ponder the notion of the phone possessing a phone book, a window into its soul, the inside brought out, the instruction manual as an integral part of the device itself.......

I'm telling you, this phone book stuff is a real presence this time of year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And She's Just Fine

A week went by since I'd had a chance to visit G'ma.  I'd meant to stop by on Thursday night before I left for Sedona, but life and laundry got in the way.  I could have gone over Sunday afternoon,but my hot tub and the end of the Lee Child thriller and a complete reluctance to get back in the car after 238 miles of travel kept me right here at home.

I didn't feel guilty.  I knew she was safe and well cared for.  I knew she wasn't alone.  I knew she wouldn't remember how many days had passed.  That's the good and the bad part of her demented brain.

Demented is a very strange word.  I hear the cackles of Bedlam Asylum and conjure up an image of Mr. Hyde's wild eyes and teeth and hair, nothing relating to any other part of the whole.  It's an untethered feeling with a lack of control.  Yet that doesn't resemble my lovely white haired mother at all.  She looks just fine.  She's not forgotten the social graces and she's still able to pretend to follow what's going on.  I know that there are times when she loses the beginning of the sentence by the time I've come to the end, but sometimes my sentences are really long and convoluted and involve a change or two of venue and actors.  TBG often loses track, too.

I'm not diminishing the severity of what's happened to her brain.  I did that for a very long time.  Whether or not it is possible for her to expand her capabilities has become less the issue than the fact that she shows little interest in doing exercises of any sort.  Neither physical therapists' prescriptions nor brain games in books or on-line hold any interest for her.  She's happily making herself content by watching Law'n re-runs and ogling Mark Harmon on NCIS and if the word-find books also stimulate her brain well that's just dandy but it's not the reason she's doing them.  She likes them.  They don't require her to remember where she left off in the narrative the way a novel or a magazine article would.  Being the orderly soul that she is, G'ma starts with the first clue and makes a check next to it once she's circled it on the grid.  Then she moves on to the next clue.  She's been doing this for decades and I've never once seen her skip a clue.  She sets high standards for herself.  To me, that's as valuable a quality as a more quantitative analysis of her brain function might be.

Why?  Because it's a piece of who she always was that remains intact despite the dementia.  And yes, she is certainly demented.  Just ask her.  She knows.

Infoplease defines the Latin root of the prefix de thusly
away, off; generally indicates reversal or removal in English
and that's really what's happened.   Her memory is away, off site, and usually non-responsive.  Instead of incorporating new information it is doing the reverse, rejecting the data as quickly as it appears. That which was once there has been removed from the storage banks.  "Oy, my memory....." is G'ma's all-purpose lament.

I can't imagine how frightening it must be to feel lost all the time.  Though she's lived in the pod-castle for 14 months now, finding her apartment is still a challenge.  I know that she is never far from a friendly worker-bee who will escort her directly to her couch and who will be sure that she's comfy under her blanket and that the remote control is close at hand before leaving her alone, but she doesn't remember that.  Each and every time we enter the front or back door she gives a rueful laugh and says exactly the same thing: "It's a good thing you are here with me because otherwise I wouldn't have the faintest idea of where I am or where I am going."  Each and every time.  It's like Quasimodo swinging from that damn bell, back and forth, pounding my innards and hurting my heart.  I'm glad she's self-aware enough so that wandering off is not a problem, but I worry that she's a prisoner of her limitations.

Then I look at her and she's smiling.  She's with me and she's safe and she's just telling me how she's feeling in the moment.  She's glad I'm there and so am I.  My reaction is selfish, though understandable.  I'll always want her to be my mommy and in many ways she is If I cry she's got all the right stuff still at her fingertips and lips.  I can kvetch about my siblings or children or spouse and her reactions are predictable and appropriate because somehow she retains the emotional baggage attached to each one of them.

But day to day her mentation has slipped away and I miss what might have been. She was a smart, thoughtful woman who read books and was engaged in the world around her.  Now she's a smart thoughtful woman who can't remember much except that she's not stupid, just forgetful.  But then I look at her and she's smiling and I remind myself that this is her issue and she's dealing with it gracefully and thoughtfully and intelligently.

If she can handle it, well then, so can I.

I am her daughter, after all.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bliss at the Vortex

We're back from Sedona, Amster and I.  I'm not sure that we were influenced by the Birth Mother rock formation which loomed over our spa destination 

but we are renewed, body and soul.  I'm in a quiet, reflective, at-one-with-nature place right now.  The sky seems bluer and my breath feels lighter.  I'm not saying that the presence of the vortex is with me, but something's sure going on.

We drove up I-10 to I-17 and turned off at the Oak Creek/ Sedona exit and it was stunning.  Less than 100 yards from the exit the road turns and there they were

red rocks (sedimentary formations filled with oxidizing iron ore which "rusts" and turns red) right in front of the road.  And to the left. And to the right.  And we could have stayed right there and been happy for an hour or so. 

But we continued past the round-abouts and the galleries and the crystal shops and the psychic reading salons and, with the red rocks accompanying us, we wound our way through town and down Boynton Canyon.  By that time, the gentle rain had turned to a torrential downpour.  Hard as it may be to believe, even with all the stuff we packed for 2 nights away from home

neither of us had any rain gear.  We live in Tucson, remember?  When it rains here we all go outside and revel in the experience.  The bell man had a golf cart

and a couple of huge umbrellas and we tried to keep from freezing as he zipped through the raindrops and deposited us in our casita.  Had the table not been soaking wet, we'd have gone out on the porch and stayed there til bedtime.   But the weather wasn't cooperating

so we changed into gym clothes and headed for the Spa and Fitness Center for weights and yoga and stretching and then the hot tub and the sauna and the steam and a shower and then tomato soup and grilled shrimp on grilled asparagus spears in the minimalist dining room.  By the time we strolled back to our beds 

the rain had stopped and we were feeling pretty wonderful.

We'd reserved space on the hike Saturday morning and the message they left us at 3am said that the weather wasn't going to preclude our adventure.  John drove us and our new friends from Newton, MA to the Thunder Mountain trail head in a much-too-big-for-our-purposes 15-passenger van and we set out to bag the peak.

We didn't actually climb up to the top of the crevasse although John swore that he'd seen someone do just that.  I was impressed but uninspired to attempt it.  I'm not crazy about heights. We trekked on red clay

up 1000' to the base of the pillars, though, and scooted around the bottom to see all the views, which were fantastic

and the pace was aerobic and we were ready for the hot tub (outdoor this time) and some lounge chairs

as we rested up for our massages later that afternoon.  Amster put me to shame by heading for the Fitness Center where she worked her legs and butt.  I sat comfortably outside, shooting the clouds and the mountains and the sky

and finished the latest Sara Paretsky epic. 

Bea's massage was heavenly and painful-in-a-good-way and when she said that she "could get lost in this back for a week or so.... there's so much going on here...."  I just relaxed and let her pound away.  Thoughtful fingers are a real treat; combine them with strength and intelligence and the experience becomes sublime.  It was wildly expensive but I am worth it. 

We ate and slept and went to Crystal Magic and shared the drive home.  89-A is the way to go, denizens, if you're driving up that way.  It's a nice hour-plus trip north of Phoenix, and on the way you'll pass Horsethief Basin Recreation Area and Bloody Basin Road and Montezuma's Castle and you'll remember that you are in the Wild West.  There are acres and acres of undeveloped land, covered in scrub and mesquite and dust.  There are squared off mesas and mountain ranges at the tip of the horizon and the only thing that was missing was some autumn color. 

I may have to drive up there next week just for that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Let's Watch Some Baseball

I must apologize to those of you who use The Burrow to keep abreast of sports news. There's been a whole lot of baseball being played and I haven't told you anything at all about it.  That's probably because October is my favorite month of the year and I've been busy enjoying the sights and sounds of the great outdoors rather than hunkering down in front of a television watching other people play.

But tonight is the 5th game of the NLCS and the Giants are one game away from going to The Series.  In non-sports-talk, the Giants, San Francisco's baseball team (which, unlike the New York Giants actually plays in its eponymous city) have won 3 out of the 7 games in the National League Championship Series which means that if they beat the Philadelphia Phillies tonight they will play against either the Yankees or the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series.

This is a very big deal.  Like any good fair weather fan, I am enjoying jumping on the bandwagon of my once and former team now that they are winning the big games.  I make no bones about it.  I don't care enough to follow an entire season, but if the Cubbies aren't in the running I am more than happy to pick up a winning team in the Fall.  It's always more fun to have a vested interest, no matter how slight it may be.  This year there's the added bonus of having the Big Cuter in San Francisco; with a personal tie I feel marginally less cheesy.
TBG told me that 3 old Giants fans had sung the National Anthem and "Damn, but they were good."  In fact, he liked the harmony of the last few bars so much that he rewound the dvr so that I could hear it myself.  I had to laugh - they were really really good.... if somewhat pitchy....

It was Phil Lesh and Bob Weir from The Grateful Dead, with Further's Jeff Pehrson, entertaining the crowd.  TBG gave himself props for recognizing good music, even if he couldn't identify the participants.  As he says, that's what he's got me for.
With smiles on our faces we watched the Giants take a 1-0 lead after the first inning.  This was going to be a pitchers' duel, we thought.  Tim Lincecum is throwing for the Giants, and he's just about perfect.  He has a nice easy motion and pinpoint accuracy and even I can see that he's very very good.  His opponent is the kid who threw a no-hitter in his first play-off appearance in the NLDS 2 weeks ago , Roy Halladay (non-sports talk -- nobody could hit his pitches in the series before this one.... the Division).  He, too, is quite excellent.  They look like they are 12 years old, but then pretty much everyone on television does these days.
The fans are having a really good time watching their team, despite their disturbing tendency to lag behind until the 8th or 9th inning.  As one woman's sign put it : Torture never felt so good.  I'm certainly glad that my interest is marginal at best; if I really cared I'd be having an Ativan cocktail with every game.
The good thing about watching baseball vs football or soccer is that I can make dinner at the same time.  Adding in typing to you means a few more hand washings between tasks, but we're not missing any of the game, I promise.  The Phillies scored 3 in the 3rd but I'm trying not to worry.  Lincecum's a good pitcher and the Giants have some offensive power and they do come back when they are behind.  I'm going to make some salad and hope for better things.
Baseball is a hard game to watch when you are eating because some players think it is acceptable to expectorate while they are working.  It is not.  That's all I am going to say on the subject.  Some of you may be eating.

But while we're thinking about men behaving badly, let me ask you this: Do you ever consider touching your private body parts when you are at work?  How about when you know that you are on national television?  Once again, we have an example of unacceptable behavior.  I really have to wonder about the concept of shame in modern society.  As my parents always told me, and as Cris Collinsworth reiterated in a totally different context, if you don't want it printed on the front page of the New York Times then don't do it.
As the Giants come up to bat in the bottom of the 4th, there's a rainbow over PacBell Park (or whatever it is called now) there and a gorgeous full moon over the Pusch Ridge here and the sunset is classic Georgia O'Keefe and that's making it easier to believe that the gods are smiling on us since the Giants managed to score another run in the bottom of the 4th.   We're still down a run, and there's a light rain shower going on in the stadium, but TBG and I have the windows open and the breeze blowing through our dry house and life is good.  I am so glad I don't really care about the outcome of this game.
The Giants changed pitchers a couple of times, and the Phillies scored another run and this will be the last game of the season that's played in Baghdad by the Bay unless the Giants can take one of the two remaining games in Philadelphia this weekend. 

But don't worry about me, denizens.  I won't be that sad.  I have a secret emotional weapon which is protecting my heart.  The Crayolas are intimately connected to the Phillies organization; Dad's already announced that he is going to every game if they make it to the World Series.  It's a family thing, and I like his family.  Should the Giants fold, I'll take my fair-weather-fan-self over to Philadelphia's side.  I have no shame. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Operatic Sense of Duty

G'ma and I saw the Arizona Opera's performance of The Pirates of Penzance on Sunday.  We're still humming the tunes and making ourselves laugh as I remember and remind her of that faithless woman, Ruth, of the lithe and supple policemen seeming to fly above the stage, of the wardrobe malfunction which revealed the faux-buns which created the sisters' bustles.  It was a marvelous, wonderful, totally enjoyable performance, even if the tickets did set us back nearly $250.  On the other hand, we were 6 rows from the stage, right in the middle.  We could make eye contact with the performers.  Some of them had very nice eyes.

Getting places with G'ma and her assistive devices always makes me a little nervous.  Will there be stairs?  Will the handicapped spots still be available?  Will she be too nervous if I have to drop her off?  The parking lot was full an hour before the curtain went up, and I began to sweat.  But the attendant directed us to a less expensive and ultimately more convenient lot underneath the Arizona Inn. With both of us in the car, our parking karma was out in full force - I left The Schnozz in the first space to the right of the entrance ramp.  I love learning new things about downtown; I now have a sneaky place to leave my car whenever I'm going to the Convention Center area.  

We walked across the street and into the doorway which was, surprisingly and pleasantly, situated at the end of our row of seats.  The usherette handed us pretty programs and we slid down to our places.  The Tucson Music Hall is an absolutely lovely venue.  The chairs are comfy and there's plenty of leg room and enough of a pitch between rows that your view is rarely blocked.  It's true that the tallest person in the theater was seated in front of G'ma, but she insisted that she was fine and I believed her.  Nothing spoiled our afternoon. 

Joel Revzen, conductor extraordinaire, strode to his podium with a firm step and a big smile and that's how he conducted.  He swirled the horns and quieted the drums and flourished and bombasted with the best of them.  He was still smiling when he joined the cast on stage at the end of the performance.... and so were we.

This was a quirky production.  Curt Olds's Pirate King and his unbuttoned blouse gave a sexy overtone to his wry persona.  Frederic (Brian Anderson) was campy and dull and a foil as, I think, all the male ingenue leads in Gilbert and Sullivan tend to be.  He was eagerly and easily led by the sultry-teetering-on-the-edge-of-slutty Mabel.  Played brilliantly by Sarah Jane McMahon, she announced her presence with authority when she joined her sisters on stage and she kept herself in view even as she was climbing the rocky walls while the rest of the cast sang center stage.  It wasn't upstaging.... or if it was, I didn't mind it.  Mostly, I just wanted to see what she'd come up with next.  I've never seen a Victorian maiden turn cartwheels before.  And these were good cartwheels.  We enjoyed it and she knew it and it was all good.  Everybody was smiling. 

Except, perhaps, for Ruth.  Korby Myrick captured what I've always felt about Ruth : an inner toughness and superiority.  She knew her options were limited.  A 47 year old baby nurse with references from a band of pirates would have a hard time making her way in England without a husband.  There was real desperation as she sang Master, Master, do not leave me, and her voice was powerful enough to rise above Frederic and the orchestra and pierce my soul. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of the production was the attention we paid to the lesser characters.  Each and every one of the sisters had a distinct personality.  The taupe one held her hanky up when all the rest were down.  One cried and sighed more than anyone else.  One was shyer and another an extremely forceful dancer.  Their outfits were all different (I've seen productions where the dresses varied only in color) and stunning, but it's their personalities I remember most.  The same can be said for the pirates.  Though only Kevin Wetzel's Samuel is named in the program, I can bring to mind the plaid-panted pirate and the ginger-bearded pirate and the looked-like-he-was-going-to-church pirate and the waist-coated gentleman (for gentlemen they are, if you recall), too.  

The policemen were all of a piece - black mustachioed and uniformly uniformed.  The three dancing policemen brought some life to those scenes, but the stand-out cop was Police Sergeant Craig Phillips, who had a little Groucho Marx thing going on up there on the stage, with his goo-goo-googly eyes and giggle-inducing mannered gait.  I've heard the role sung more beautifully, but I've never known the Sergeant before seeing it on Sunday.  Perhaps all those policemen were boring by design, there to provide a backdrop for their Sergeant.  The troops came into their own on their entrances and exits, though.  Their marching feet were perceived as drum beats.  There was nothing overt about it; the sound was just there as they moved across the stage.  It was eerie and creepy and wonderfully in tune with the set - Chris Clapp's cobweb encrusted recreation of Major-General Stanley's ruined ancestral home. 

There were lots of wonderfully funny things to see, like flat sheep which baa'ed their way across the stage, and there were many beautiful things to see, too.  The costumes and the seashore and the lighting (in shades of orange and violet) of the tableaux-like choral pieces evoked more than one ahhh from those around us.  Mabel's parasol has a persona all its own... and a fairly sexy persona at that.  The curtain was red and then there was rigging, silhouetted in black, and a skull and cross bones that was less Captain Hook and more Yorick appearing on that red background.  It was subtle; one second it was there, the next it was not.  It was fun to smile before the curtain rose. 

If you know nothing else about this operetta, you know the patter of the Modern Major General.  Steven Condy owns the role, and nobody else should even try.  I understood every single word he said, without looking at the super-titles.  He enunciated cleverly, he postured outrageously, he whined gratuitously, and I loved every single bit of it.  His role is graced with some of Gilbert's best words - that divine emollient, poetry is right up there with my favorite lines of all time - and he does them justice while enjoying himself immensely.  

And this is a nice segue to my favorite part of the entire experience - it was totally un-mic'ed.  That's right, these were performers who were prepared to fill an auditorium of 2,289 souls with the sound of their voices and nothing else.  No electronic enhancements were available to create noise where there should be music.  If I wanted to hear them I had to be there; I always feel as if I could be listening to a record instead of sitting in my seat when I hear a mic'ed performance.  This was musical theater as it should be - the performers, the sets and a few thousand ears and eyes and hearts. 

I wish you all could have been with us, though I brought you there in my heart.  I scribbled notes on index cards (writing in the dark is hard) so I wouldn't forget a thing.  Like most good things, this is even better now that it's shared.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Insurance Will Cover It

In the interest of avoiding litigation, the insurer will be referred to only as Nameless Insurance Machine - NIM

The first Explanation of Benefits was for $10,051.38 of Hospital Services

We have yet to see a bill from the hospital.  Perhaps that will explain what the individual services might be.  For now, we are looking at 8 pages with lines like these: an Amount Billed of $2,138.07 worth of generic Hospital Services with a concomitant Amount Allowed of $302.10.  Honestly, denizens, I just don't know where to start.

How about those 7 cents?  Someone somewhere spent an awful lot of time and energy coming up with that number.  Is its specificity designed to reassure me?  Would I think less of this mess if the amounts were rounded off to the nearest dollar?

There is no rhyme or reason that I can see between the Amount Billed and the Amount Allowed.  To make it simple, let's round off our numbers.  That $2100-and-change charge was reimbursed at about $300. Another Amount Billed, this one for less than $1700*was also reimbursed at about $300. There's a $27 charge that's both Billed and Allowed at $27, and $6.22 comes in in both columns, too.  It's a mystery, I tell ya, it's a mystery.

Lest I imagine that this bill comes from a heartless entity, there's a column titled Message Code.  Actually, it says Msg. Code, and it is only 4 spaces wide.  The columns which include dollar amounts are 13 spaces wide.  Those columns do not use the dollar sign.  That's 13 spaces for numbers and commas.  That's a lot of money.  We'll revisit that thought later, but, for now, it's back to my message.  Most of the rows referred me to messages 3 and 5.  Those messages contain the exact same verbiage:
This NIM participating provider will accept NIMs allowance as the basis of payment unless other available for these expenses. 
Beyond wondering why in the world they need two different numbers to tell me exactly the same information, I have an even more basic question: What does that mean?  I'm a reasonably well-educated woman and I have no idea what they are trying to say. Basis of payment? When I hear basis I think of a starting amount.  When you sell stock, you look at the price you paid - your basis - to calculate your profit.  Am I to assume that this is merely a beginning? I don't think so.  But if they mean total payment then why not say it? Messages 3 and 5 also remind me to
review the provider information in (my) benefit booklet
I also searched the website.  There was no explanation that I could find.  The whole thing seems more than a little fishy to me..... less Pike Place Market  and more Lower East Side pushcart.

But let us continue.  We have chosen a plan with a fairly high deductible, so we are not surprised that the Amount Allowed and the Deductible amounts are identical, less the $150 the hospital collected while the patient was writhing on the bed.  That's the Emergency Room Access Fee and it has its own special column, called CoPay.  I'm not sure about the derivation of the term, but I know that it means I'm taking out the charge card before they do anything else. I knew about that fee going into the experience and it's the only part which is clear to me.

I am stuck on the Claim Totals line.  The Amount Billed by the hospital is $10,015.38.  The Amount Allowed, that which they will accept as the basis of payment (whatever that might mean), that which we will be paying out of pocket as part of our deductible, is $1,521.65.  That's a difference of $8,493.73.  And my question is, who's responsible for it?

Is the hospital lying when it pegs the cost of care for 6 hours in their Emergency Room, without including the doctors' fees, at $10,000?  If it's an accurate figure, then how in the world are they ever going to recoup their costs?  I cannot imagine that NIM's basis of payment is that much different from any other insurance conglomerate's. Could you run a business if you wrote off more than 50% of your expenses as uncollectibles? 

I am making a pledge here and now - I will become the first woman in recorded history who will be able to say, with certainty, that she understands the hospital/insurance/insured nexus.  I am going to get to the bottom of this is it's the last thing I do.  I have been listening to Jesse Kelly trying to unseat Gabrielle Giffords by blaming her for ObamaCare.  His suggestions for a solution are gibberish.  I am going to rise above the tide of political bickering and insurance company gobbledy-gook and I am going to come out on the other side with the knowledge I need to understand how and why we managed to spend upwards of $10,000 to diagnose pneumonia.

This will be an on-going series, and I'll link back to this post as I go along.  For now, I am waiting to hear from NIM and a family member who might also be able to shed some light on the subject..... he was a hospital CFO for many years.  My fear, denizens, is that I will end up no more satisfied than Jonah in Sleepless in Seattle, when he asked how much it costs to fly to New York.  The answer? "No one knows how much it costs to fly to New York."

I hope someone knows how much a CAT scan costs.

* For you control freaks, that would be $1667.66 and $303.92 to be exact

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bunionella's Viral Triumph

That's my pal, Bunionella, hawking our friend's bunion-fixing device.  I have no first hand knowledge of the effectiveness of the device, but I can tell you that this video has been watched a gazillion times, mostly by males ages 14-17.  Why this is true I cannot say, but the device's creator has access to this kind of information and swears to its veracity.

All I can tell you is that we've had a pretty good time laughing about the fact that she's gone viral amongst the pubertal set.  Is there an outbreak of bunions among our youth?  Hardly.  I think it's because Bunionella is one of the world's truly funny people.  She's like this day in and day out.  Listening to her tell stories is one of the great pleasures in my life.  She and her Ukranian Hunk of a Husband have been visiting our humble abode and I've been laughing myself silly.  Unfortunately, all this hysteria has not allowed time for a proper blogging experience.  So, for today, enjoy Bunionella yourselves, and pretend that you are sitting with us around the pool, laughing at the funny faces she makes and the intelligence and love that shine through them all.

I'll be back tomorrow with a more usual post.  For now, I'm going back to the couch. They're all laughing and I want to know why.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I have been paid for my writing.

Let that sentence resonate for a while.  Imagine a background of french horns and cymbals and a timpani (I knew a timpanist in Marin... it came to mind) with wallpaper of a grinning woman.  A hugely grinning almost breaking her face woman dancing around the library, hooting and hollering and making a general nuisance of herself except that there was no one around to complain.  By the same token, there was no one around with whom she could share the joy. 

Somehow, it didn't matter.  This was mine, all mine.  Someone with financial resources wanted to share her largesse with me, sitting alone at my keyboard, wondering what to write.  I'd dashed off a post I'd been considering but had not fully created and BlogHer chose that one, written straight from my heart onto the screen, that one earned money.  Cold hard cash for my own inner thoughts.  The things I wonder about, the issues that wend their ways inside my twisted little brain, the unmediated and unfiltered and unrevised ramblings of an over-educated, over-thinking adult -- these were rewarded. 

The notification email from BlogHer referenced empowerment - not only the empowerment of womens' voices, but financial empowerment as well.  Well, let me tell you, I feel quite powerful right now.  The money I'm to receive will buy 2 of us a lovely lunch (unless I put it to the purchase of an ergonomically correct chair) so it's really not that this will change my monetary life in any meaningful way.  Rather, it is something much more fundamental, something which speaks to how we have discerned value.  It was as true in the 17th century as it was in the 20th.  Thomas Hobbes's quote has been in use in my family for decades:
The "value" or "worth" of a man is, as of all other things, his price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power.
Gender issues aside, I believe that it was true then and it is true now, no matter what my bleeding-liberal-heart might wish were true as we evolve as a species.  Daddooooo used to admonish us to "Stop Measuring" while wondering "Who's counting?" which would make for a nice story except for the fact that he was the one who did more measuring and counting than anyone else.  Humans can count.  Therefore we can measure ourselves against one another. And money is a handy dandy tool with which to do so.

I've always known in my heart of hearts that the volunteer work I've done has been amply repaid by the consequences of my involvement.  I've received thank you notes and shy smiles of appreciation and I've been asked for a copy of a graduation speech I gave in 1999 and those were rewards enough.  I was lucky enough to have a partner with a high paying job; I could afford to give away my talents. 
It was the right thing to do and I did it.

I always knew, though, that I'd have done it for cash, too.  It's just that no one ever offered to pay me for doing what I loved, when I loved doing it, on my own terms and for my own ends.  Did I run the major fundraiser and chair the book fair so that my name would be known when I ran for the school board?  Absolutely.  I did all those things on my own schedule, for the most part, but they involved scores of other participants.  I was never totally in control of my own destiny, and it rankled.

I was a supervisor for most of my working life, and as such I was a fairly independent operator.  Still, I had a Department Head and an 8 hour day requirement and there were reports and meetings and expectations that existed in exchange for a check. I received many nice words at my annual reviews, but rarely more than a 3% raise.  TBG, working in the financial services sector where salaries were triple mine at the beginning of a career, rarely heard a word of praise.  Yet year after year, annual review after annual review, I heard how wonderful I was and he received 40% pay hikes.  It got tiresome after a while, I can assure you.

So, when I read the email telling me that, on my own terms,doing what I wanted to do, pleasing no one but myself and those who self-select to be my readers, asking nothing of anyone except the software to create my essays, when I'd finally become Jo March instead of just wishing I could be more than her friend, well, denizens, there was one happy gray-haired lady jumping around the desert Southwest. 

I am valued.

It feels great!
Go to and click the Love and Sex tab.  The post was on the front page starting Oct. 12th.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Wonderful Thing

Click on over to where Is It Love has been syndicated and is on the first page of the Love and Sex tab.

I'll be writing more on this for Monday... but, for now.... go and see how my work looks in syndication.

I'm stunned.

Friday, October 15, 2010

On Aches and Pains

No one wants to be (or be near) the cranky lady who's always moaning and groaning about her aches and pains.  No one is that interested in someone else's problems, unless, of course, there's a good story attached to the limp or the splint.  Even then, the listener is usually more enthralled with the circumstances of the onset rather than in what follows.  Other people's ailments are more gross than engrossing.
Is there anyone who could argue with that thesis?  I was a medical social worker and I really didn't enjoy listening to my patients' descriptions of procedures and wounds and treatments.  I sympathized and I consoled and I explained but I wasn't having a very good time at all.  Of course, as I was wont to tell my supervisees, "That's why they call it work."
G'ma is my role model for dealing with pain.  She shows such grace under pressure.  When I compliment her on her forbearance she responds with incredulity.  "What?  Should I complain all the time?  Will that make it hurt any less?"  She's peeved that I am impressed.  I'm impressed that she's peeved.  And so it goes....
This topic is near and dear to my heart this week for two reasons.  One is personal and one is external but they have been conflating themselves in my brain all week and now, as we enter the weekend, they are ramping up their intensity.  Read and see what you think.

First of all, I feel as though I've been complaining a lot recently.  The Burrow is filled with kidney stones and pneumonia and migraines and who wants to spend time with that?  My day to day existence isn't much better.  Though we are on the mend, we're not 100% back to normal.  When you are accustomed to a certain level of physical activity, when sweating is a good thing, when your body is used to stretching and balancing and exerting itself.... and then you can't..... for a long time.... because you or your partner needs you..... by the time you feel ready to resume your normal activities your body has deteriorated to the point where it just sits there, laughing at your hubris.  To think that I could take a week off and return to my previous level was absurd.  I knew it was ridiculous.  I have had this experience before.  But did I learn from my mistakes?  Did I remember to ease back into it?  Did I favor my strained shoulder?  No, no and no.

But here I go, complaining again,  And that's another thing about this business.  It's a self-reinforcing cycle of kvetching.  I'm not proud of it.  I'm just letting you know that I am aware of it.

The second part of the equation is happening in the world of sports.  Brett Favre, 41 years old and currently the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, is in the news for more than the fact that he's old and still playing professional football.  There are allegations that he sent pictures of his penis to several women, and that the photos were accompanied by some lewd suggestions. 

The commentators' reactions to this news?  How will it affect his play on Sunday? 

This annoys me for many reasons.  I'm looking for some moral outrage here.  The NFL is sponsoring all manner of pink-ness as they promote breast cancer awareness this month.  Hats are trimmed with pink, soles of players' shoes are pink, the centers' towels are pink, the half-time shows feature marching bands making pink ribbons..... as a marketing ploy to get more women involved in watching the game it might just be working.  But then there's Brett and his pictures of Little Brett and the talking heads are worried how it will affect the game.  How about how it will affect his wife and kids?  How about the women you've been seducing with all this pink-ness?  There's obviously a period of reflection and fact-gathering (the incidents are alleged to have happened two years ago) that is needed, but someone, somewhere, somebody should be doing just a little bit of tsk-tsk-ing.  Don't you think?

Now, Brett's got a bit of tendinitis going in his elbow.  It was obvious during the Jets game last weekend, and Steve Young (former San Francisco 49'ers quarterback) gave a heartfelt description of how painful that condition is when you are throwing a football with all your might and main.  Brett's thinking of sitting out Sunday's game.

I'm not denigrating his pain.  But Brett Favre holds the record for consecutive starts in the NFL - 289. He plays hurt.  It's highly unusual to hear him consider sitting out a game because his body is in trouble.  Why then are the airwaves filled with speculation on this subject?  What about the fact that Commissioner Roger Goodell is considering the evidence.  Although there is "no timetable for completing an investigation into a Deadspin report that Favre sent inappropriate messages and photos to Jenn Sterger in 2008,"  it is certainly possible that a decision to suspend Favre could come before his next game.  Does Brett want his streak broken by executive fiat?  I think not.  Hence, the tendinitis complaints.

It is pure speculation, of course.  But I have aches and pains on the brain today, and that's what I think.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Telling More Stories

Grandpa used to sing a part of this song all the time. I can never remember the words, and it is pretty hard to Google two measures of a tune. But somehow it made its way to me today. Enjoy!

This from IntrepidCat, niece and web-explorer-extraordinaire, on her Facebook page today.  
She was the first person I knew who kept a web-log..... which seems to have contracted to become a blog.... and which is now kept by an old aunt instead of a high school niece.  The times, they are a-changin'

That is true... but it's also false.  Some things don't ever change.  The memory of Grandpa singing a slightly naughty tune is old and new at the same time.  He's remembered in a different setting, with new people, by an older-and-wiser you.  He's there now as he was then.  YouTube helps you tell the story once more, and it's new again.  Were you sitting in the audience as the singer strummed?  Was Grandpa swaying in waltz time with you?  He was with me, I can assure you of that.

I found another difference between the Iliad and the Odyssey and the Aeneid today.  The first two are personal stories - I Want My Wife Back and I Just Wanna Go Home - where Aeneas's eponymous tale is less about him than it is about the stories that make up the history of Rome.  Aeneas is a curiously empty character.  He is there when things happen, but that seems to be just a device to move the plot along.  After finishing 10 of the 12 Books which comprise the epic, I can't say that I am any closer to knowing Aeneas than I was when I began.  He calculates how to tell Dido that he's blowing town, but he never considers that he might miss her.  She's so furious that she can't even look at him when he runs across her in the Underworld; he's oblivious to her pain.  Or, perhaps, he is surprised by her pain.  In either case, he's not sharing it.  

Even without the more human connection of the Greek tales, the Aeneid still serves its purpose, story-telling-wise.  If you buy my thesis that it's our shared stories which, more than anything else, bind us together, then the Aeneid's reiteration of Rome's creation story helped bind the wounds of their recent history.  Who are we as Romans?  Virgil's going to tell you, by recounting the past.

And so who is IntrepidCat?  Does her delight in discovering a forgotten lyric remind me of her Grandpa's twinkly eye as he almost-but-not-quite got into trouble with G'ma?  Did she learn anything from those encounters?  Are they part and parcel of who she is today?  How did that YouTube clip come to her today?  Is her Grandpa watching her search even now as we prepare to celebrate what would have been his 94th birthday today?  I'm thinking of getting some ice cream and twirling and swirling it around in my bowl until it's just soupy enough.  I'm thinking of stacking paper plates and cups into a tall tower on a picnic table.  I'm glad that I'm going to see Pirates of Penzance with G'ma on Sunday.  And all of these smiles are because IntrepidCat had a lyric stuck in her head.  I'm going to practice creating my food in just the right way, because presentation is as important as taste.  I'm going to create and be a mechanic and tread on the edge of naughtiness, all while paying homage to Gilbert and Sullivan in the soundtrack in my head.  Each one of these things is a piece of our story, IntrepidCat.  Even if you aren't aware of it.

Thanks for the memory and Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Being 5

Dah Rock Shop was every bit as wonderful as Mr. 5 had hoped.  There were 2 worker bees and we two shoppers and no one else for two hours of absolute bliss this afternoon.  Mr. 5 had his gemstone books and $10 and a big smile.  I had my backpack and nothing but time.  We were in heaven.

Who knows why this little boy fell in love with gemstones?  He tells me that he has some crystals at home, but I've never seen them.  At Barnes and Noble with Amster last month he chose Gemstones as his purchase and he's spent the last 3 weeks finding mica inside the rubble around the playground at school.  He's a very good smasher of rocks; just ask him.

Being a younger brother is a role fraught with peril.  As I type, Mr. 7 is sitting in time out for 7 minutes of rumination after deciding that kicking his younger sibling was an appropriate means of gaining his attention.  At his teacher conference last year, Mr. 5 was outstanding in every area save one - leadership.  Amster and I had to laugh - the child has an outspoken, driven, strong-willed older brother.  Any attempt at leadership would be suicidal.

But today was Mr. 5's special day.  I picked him up at early dismissal and told him that he was in charge.  No matter what he said, I responded with "Yes, sir."  Our first stop was AppleDonald's... his combination of Applebees and McDonalds but meaning only Mickey D's.  There was a special Happy Meal toy - a skateboard - that was more important than the nuggets.  Unfortunately, there were no more skateboards.  We left and went to Burger King; this was his day and he was in charge.

After launching our cars (part of BK's Kids Meal) on the plastic seats it was off to look at geodes and fossils and glass crystals and orbs of all dimensions.  He touched everything.  He chose and then reconsidered and then pondered and returned his selection and replaced it with another.  The workers soon became accustomed to his roaming and touching.  He's a very gentle little boy and has delicate hands.  Nothing fell.  Nothing was broken.  Not until we got to my house and he lost the tip of his fossilized geisonoceras.  There were no tears as I reassured him that if we could find the piece I would superglue it together again.  He was basking in the notion of being in charge and nothing was going to ruin his day.

We picked up Mr. 7 after school and got G'ma and some of her Hershey's Kisses and came to my house to play Sorry and Lego's and chess.  Yes, chess.  According to the kids, it's a war game and a thinking game and the fact that I let them play with my beautiful set makes them feel very special.And that's a good thing, because they are.

Amster is taking me to Sedona later this month to thank me for loving her children.  It's really backwards.... I should be taking her.  Having them in my life makes me smile.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Being Sick

I have a migraine.  My allergies have decided to announce their presence with authority.  I've taken all the OTC medications allowed for the day and I still feel miserable.  I'm achy.  I'm slow.  I'm sweaty. I'm a little bit anxious and a little bit nauseous. My throat is trying to be sore, though I am reminding it that it's only raspy because of the allergens and not because of a virus coursing through my system.  I had to come out of downward dog this morning and press my forehead into the mat in child's pose; the world had been spinning mightily before I got down to the ground.  In general, it's been a crappy day.

I've been trying to keep a positive outlook in my glove compartment.  I took it out while stuck in construction traffic when I wanted to be prone on my comfy mattress at home.  I let it wash over my aches and pains and decided to smile at the car wash kid instead of screeching that my head hurt and I didn't want to hear about any other options.... I wanted the $2.99 exterior wash and I wanted to be left alone.  I'm not sure how successful I was, but my car did emerge from the machinery unscathed so I must have concealed my fury well enough to keep him from trashing my vehicle.  I have a hard time caring about the feelings of others when I'm under the weather.  It seems only right that the entire world should be aware of my discomfort and should comport itself accordingly.

I don't want to be disturbed when I don't feel well.  TBG likes company, some one who will rub his head and fetch him popsicles.  I want to be left alone.  I don't want anyone else in the house.  I don't want to feel the pressure of looking sickly if I'm having a better moment or two; the guilt associated with remaining in bed while the sun is out is only exacerbated if there's someone around.  I don't want anyone listening to my moaning and groaning.  I'm going to wallow and I want to do it in peace.  I don't want to be judged.

I'm usually furious with myself when I don't feel well.  I tell the Cuters that they are lucky that TBG's American roots stretching back to 1633 are enriched by my hearty peasant stock.  I'm rarely ill; without much experience I'm not sure I do it very well.  

G'ma doesn't remember a thing about her falls and the 6 months of recovery which followed.  She's missing the memories of laying a-bed, moaning and wondering why there was pain and dizziness and mental fatigue.  I have only one memory of her being ill in my childhood - Daddooooo took us out to dinner so she could sleep and I cried when our regular waitress asked where Mom was hiding.  Now, when she's achy or sniffling or just not at her best, she smiles and refuses Aspirin or Sudafed; she'll be fine.  I missed that piece of genetic coding; at the first sign of an ache or a pain I'm in the medicine cabinet, looking for the magic potion to make the feeling go away.

But when it sticks around, when it hangs onto my every breath, when moving my eyeballs brings sharp stabbing pain to the back of my head despite Excedrine Migraine and all its many wonderful components racing through my bloodstream, well then I'm just peeved.  It's such a waste of a beautiful day.  There is an irrigation issue to be remedied before I can install the last marigold and I'm just not up to dealing with it.  I'm having house guests early next week and there's a bedroom to be readied and I just can't muster the energy.  I have a date with Mr. 5 tomorrow at 11:30 and I'm panic stricken that I won't be any fun at all.  

So, denizens, I am off to cover my eyes with a cold compress and to wallow in self-pity.  

I am certain that I will awaken tomorrow morning having shaken the bonds of bodily torment and ready to greet the new day with a smile and an abundance of energy.  But, for now, I'm going to whine as I take myself to bed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Saturday Morning in Tucson

It was busy downtown.

Yes, this counts as a busy Saturday morning in the heart of downtown Tucson.
Granted, the streets were closed off for the race, but there wasn't that much traffic to be diverted.  I managed to find an unmetered space on the street, right near the Art Museum and this little gem which I discovered as I was walking to the finish line

The arrow points to a little ceramic house that's just sitting there, smiling.
It reminded me of Tucson itself.  Understated, blending in with the scenery, not demanding very much but offering quite a lot if you take the time to notice.

The event was supported by many of Tucson's healers, 
who offered free massages in the sunshine

and in the shade

The Pilates Magic Circles were out in the Stretching Area.
It looks ridiculous but I promise that it feels great.

The fans were everywhere... although not all of them were interested in the race.  
Tucson's Meet Yourself festival was running concurrently.
Maybe this family came downtown for that?

There were low-riders tenderly cared for by their young gentlemen.

The white one turned on its side.... it was quite something to see. 
At least, I thought so.  No one else seemed to move from their positions.
Have we become that jaded that a car on its side doesn't rate a raised eyebrow or two?
There was some nifty entertainment, too.

The Lion Dancers were loud and graceful and kinda almost not really scary once they got started.  Before the performance, the cast members were just hanging out.
The Tucson Pterodactyls, our newly formed wheelchair rugby team, put on a demonstration as the runners were coming in.  They had a valet parking spot nearby, where they changed their regular chairs for ones armored for the challenge. 

It was hard to get a clear shot of them in action.  This was not a peaceful experience.
I tried to link to their website, but I don't think it exists.

As always, the food choices were eclectic.

but the runners were happy.

There were lawyers

PCBA= Pima County bar Association

 and lovely ladies

and people with causes

and lots of achy feet

Notice the left foot out of the shoe... by the arrow

I walked back to my car past the vendors who stalk the outside of all of our festivals.
The merchandise is bright and colorful and made in China.
If I had grandchildren, I'd probably be tempted.

It was a lovely walk on a balmy fall morning, and it renewed my faith in Tucson's ability to have a good time.

I also found a kindred spirit.

NO, that is not she!  That's what grabbed my attention as I came around the corner.
The little dog was yapping and the cobwebs were blowing in the breeze 

and the delightful homeowner, sweeping up the loose pieces in front of her wrap around white porch fence, (another of my someday I'll have one dreams)

was all too happy to pause and agree with me that Tucsonans are slackers when it comes to All Hallows Eve.  We chatted about her collection and The Burrow and I found my car.

Driving up to meet Amster and the other PCBA runners for breakfast at Blue Willow.
my progress was impeded by a freight train.

I didn't mind it a bit.
I sat there, snapping pictures and listening to the clickety-clack and feeling pretty good.

It was a lovely morning. 
I wish you could have been there to share it.