Thursday, October 29, 2020

With this many crowns, I think I should have a title.

 (Sweezie, Queen of All She Surveys?)  I made my (next to last) trip to the dentist to get, hopefully, the last in a long line of crowns done earlier this week.  I am all about squeezing the last penny out of my dental insurance (and my wallet, apparently) before I venture into the unknown Medicare territory.  As perverse as it sounds, I love my dentist.  I don't particularly like any form of dentistry but, if dentistry needs to be administered, then I vote for Svetlana B.  She is all of 4 feet 10 and is a human dynamo.  Her dental assistant works with her so well, it's like a dance.  Sometimes the dance of pain, but it is still fascinating.  Other than the dreaded numbing shot,  she is fast and exact and gets me in and out in sound-breaking time.   

I remember my first dentist - he was a gentle, kindly fellow, who wore a white, short-sleeved medical jacket, tie, and smelled of Brylcreem and cigarettes.  Since neither of my parents smoked (although dad did smoke a pipe from time to time), this seemed to me a very exotic thing.  Also, there was the Treasure Chest.  If you were good (translated as didn't scream or bite him), you got to choose a treasure on your way out.  I always went for the gaudiest, largest ring I could find.  

When I was in my mid-20s to mid-30s, I went to my dentist's nephew.  I liked him because of his propensity to use nitrous oxide at the drop of a hat.  A little nervous?  Pop goes the gas, on go the headphones, up goes the volume and off you go to a nicer place than the dentist's chair.  He had a fine selection of music - classical, pop, rock, jazz - there were times that I was actually disappointed when the procedure was over.

After that, I had a series of unhappy experiences with a number of bad dentists that ranged from just rude to barbaric.  I had found a very nice one just down the street from the office, but he retired and sold his business to an Egyptian butcher who apparently got his dental degree through the mail, if he had one at all.  The next one was a woman who seemed so ill at ease and unsure - case in point, I got no less than 7 novocaine shots in the roof of my mouth at every visit - that I couldn't face her.  Then I found Svetlana and have been 'happy' ever since.  I am very chummy with my hygienist, too - who will, sob, be retiring soon.  We traded cell phone numbers so we can keep in touch.

As much as I like them, however, I do hope that this is the last procedure I will be having for at least ten years.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Well, gee whiz.

 This week should wrap up all of the paperworky type stuff vis a vis my 'retirement'.  In an admirable show of support, my past company's COBRA handler (I was imagining a turban and recorder...) contacted me with an offer to continue my healthcare coverage through them.  Let me see... do I choose to pay close to $900 a month for coverage that calls for higher copays and deductibles?  Or do I opt for Medicare plus supplemental, that costs me $144 a month, with lower copays and limited deductibles?  Hmmm.  Give me a nanosecond minute...  

Autumn seems to be coming in fits and starts.  We've had days so warm, all the windows were open and I contemplated hauling the fans out from storage.  Instead, I dug my heels in and 'glistened'.   It's more than frustrating when there is a nice, sunny day and I can only do limited manual labor in my much-neglected garden.  Thank goodness everything is pretty much over for now - just my friends the kale plants are and their slightly less hardy cousins, the chards.  There are things that must get done before snow flies, so I am hoping for a couple of days this week where the sun and moon and planets line up - along with the weather, my hip pain and my motivation.  Hope springs eternal.

Speaking of hips, what would you say the device pictured below is?  (I'm sure Mrs. Puca - she of fourth grade English class - is spinning in her grave over that sentence.)  

If you guessed "bamboo toast tongs with rubber bands on the ends", you would be totally and partially right.  If you guessed that this is a sock-puller-upper tool, disguised as a pair of toast tongs with rubber bands on the ends, you would be 100 percent correct!  My sister thinks I need to stick to professional devices, but I am quite happy with this.  Just call me Sweezie McGuyver.

I am currently filling my time with ferment-making.  This was brought on in force by the arrival of two cabbages of enormous dimensions.  My neighbor asked if I would like a cabbage or six (he always grows enough vege for a family of 12) and I said, naively, sure!  I'll take two.  Sauerkraut is done and curtido is on today's agenda.

If I had a bowling ball, I'd use it for gauge.  Honestly.  He used to compost all of his extras (!!!!) until I convinced him to take them to the food pantry.  Some of those in need have large families - a perfect match, plus it's fresh vege.  Win, win, win.

Not much else to report from the Little Lucky.  I did my first bread run for Marianne (she is one of my bffs and has a large organic farm and general store, for those who may not know) and it was pure, unadulterated aitch ee double ell, being closed in my car with a back seat full of warm, fragrant bread.  I had fleeting thoughts of pulling to the side of the road and diving into the bags - eating myself to a painful and early death.  Very fleeting thoughts, thank goodness, and both the bread and driver survived the hour-long drive.  The bakery has been in business for at least 100 years and it is one of those wonderful neighborhood buildings - an old duplex, with bakery on the right and restaurant on the left.  I will try and get a picture of it on my next run, although it is still dark when I arrive.

I'm off to sort out a few projects.  Even at one a month, it will keep me busy well into my 90s!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Werewolf? Wolverine? Velociraptor?


Angry owl?  Baby dragon?  Apparently, it's pretty wild out here at night.  Whatever attacked my rear view mirror was not the usual male Cardinal.   That's hard plastic and the cuts are fairly deep.  I can just imagine trying to explain this to the insurance company.

Retirement continues to carry on in a fog.  Not only am I never sure what day it is, I don't even have to care.  So strange.  I'm hoping it's a phase.  I have all the necessary paperwork done, with the exception of what to do with my 401K.  That is on today's agenda.  Tomorrow, I am making an early morning bread run for Marianne - I'm looking at my new 'job' as courier with a glint of adventure in my eye.  I have to be outside of an Italian bakery in another town at 7AM.  Woohoo!  I get paid in pumpkins, apples and assorted vege.  It's a good deal.

I'm getting some little things checked off the small novel that is my list.  It's very satisfying.  The weather continues to mirror the year - it's totally whacked.  From hard frost, four mornings in a row, I'm back to opening all the windows and using the fan.  We have also been getting rain fairly often - needed, but it would have been more helpful in summer.  I am not complaining.  I also opened my barn door to floor-to-ceiling hay.  AND almost all of it is second cut.  I'm going to have to install one of those reducing belt machines for Linden (who managed to twist an ankle/leg badly enough that it required getting the vet out).  AND - are you ready for this? - the farmer charged me $2.50/bale.  That's right.  Gobsmacked was I.

In my usual bi-weekly check-in with elderly neighbors/friends, I learned that my second set of parents' son's partner has been diagnosed with cancer.  She is a holistic practitioner, lifelong vegetarian and has decided to approach her cancer treatment with a rigid diet.  Everyone around her is all up in arms about it.  It got me thinking that we have moved into a total remove from allowing individuals to choose how to care for their health.  Just because she will not flood her body with poison, does not make her irresponsible.  In my opinion, of course.  I can only hope that I, if faced with the same hard decisions, would be true to my own beliefs.  All I can do for her is to back her up and send her good vibes - which I do every morning.  I have to do these pesky exercises to strengthen leg/hip/butt muscles and loathe it.  Why is it that I cannot for the life of me, stick with good habits?  If it's a bad habit, I cling to it like a barnacle.  I've found that using a prayer-like mantra for friends and family as I go through the routine, helps me stop whining and makes it go faster.  I am such a baby.  Wah.

Speaking of babe...

Can we say 80s?  Unearthed by my youngest sister - taken circa 1981 when I visited her in NYC's East Village (way before it was Yuppie-ized).  I was definitely stylin.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Retirement Day 2

What day is it?  Who knows and who cares.  Welp, my work email was wiped from my phone officially on Saturday - thank goodness.  Unfortunately, they seem to have 'accidentally' swept out some of my personal contacts as well.  There was not one call or email bidding me adieu - after snuffling around, wallowing in self-pity for fifteen minutes, I pulled up the BGPs and throught, "it is way past time to wrest the apron strings from the mothership."  I'm ready for my next adventures.  However, all my adventures so far have been involved in dealing with government agencies.  I've been mired in calls with the Social Security Admin, Medicare program add-ons, 401K hooha.  While I have actually spoken to people(s) about my SS, it is still in limbo.  And it is not helpful that every single person I've talked to, who has retired this year, told me their benefits kicked in right away.  That was pre-Covid.  It's a different reality now.  I am at 45 days and processing seems to be stuck on Step 2.  After macheteing my way through the totally dysfunctional jungle of the local SSA phone system, I finally got a person who was helpful.  My coverage will kick in on November 1, so I won't be faced with a gap.  Now, I have to call back the AARP person who has been waiting to help me navigate the stormy sea of Medicare gap coverage.  OMG.  I tell you, being a member of AARP definitely has its benefits.  I am also on a first-name basis with the 401K guy - I know that he's married, lives in Ohio, has two dogs and a cat, likes the area but plays it down to his friends from the East Coast.  I must generate motherly vibes.  If your mother was Phyllis Diller, that is.

My sleep patterns are all over the place BUT, miraculously (or not), the worst of my anxiety dreams went "poof" after Friday.  I doubt if that will last, but it is a very nice mental vacation.  I do know that I need to set up some kind of structure to my days or I will turn furry and feral, lapse into my Neanderthal genes and start imagining two-way conversations with the dogs.

I was able to harvest greens (kale and chard) and get a bunch of herbs hung and drying before the heavy rains hit.  I am still hoping to get more thyme dried, as I use the heck out of it.

I'm glad I had time to enjoy the week of lovely foliage before we were hit by a fast-moving storm that topped trees, tossed power lines like linguine in clam sauce and ripped all the leaves off.  We have been in need of rain, but it would have been more helpful in July and August.  Besides gleaning what I can from the garden, I've been putting in hour shifts - getting the fence down and rolled up for the year, yoinking the tomato plants out, etc.

The dogs and cat have seamlessly melded into my retirement routine - or unroutine.  I believe that, if I counted, I pick up fleece blankets and re-cover furry bodies at least 50 times a day.  Peanut will bounce off the sofa, dragging his blanket behind, then bounce back, curl into a tight, pathetic ball, and stare at me with his beady little eyes.  Lovey is more verbal - soft whines and heavy sighs.  Obediently, I stagger over and pick up blankets and tuck them back in.  I may go mad.

The life.

"Slimmie" (snort)

I am still working away on the little stuffies - five bunnies down and I'm working on a pig in a dress.  

On Sunday, I had a celebratory dinner with my sister and mother - Connie made the BEST shrimp risotto I have ever eaten, followed by a delectable apple crisp - warm from the oven.  Heaven.  I have been so glad that soup season is upon us, because I have been wanting to make a recipe that sailed past the eyeballs last week - Vegan Curried Pumpkin Lentil Soup.  It did not disappoint - as a matter of fact, I was making little happy noises as I ate it.  It was that good.  There is no picture because it is not a photogenic soup.  You can find the recipe here.

So, ready or not, retirement, here I come.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

I'd say my style is Shabby Chic. Without the Chic.

Heavens.  I was toddling out to go get feed, when I happened to glance down and was horrified to see flotsam and jetsam all over the front of my t-shirt.  Even though I was only going to the feed mill, there are certain standards even I need to meet in order to stay this side of feral.  I trickled back inside and exchanged it for the next on the stack.  This got me musing about my closet and about my general style.  All of my fall/winter work wardrobe is still front and center - after being abandoned in March with the onset of the pandemic.  I never touched the majority of my spring/summer work wardrobe and have been living in jeans and t-shirts.  The jeans that still fit, that is.  Now, with my job on the outskys, I will have a closetful of clothes that will not see the light of day.  Time for another purge.
As I was working on the latest of the SOYSOX, I contemplated my pj bottoms.  Why would anyone think it was the right thing to do, to put gold glitter threads in cotton pajama bottoms?  And why would someone who buys her pj bottoms in Walmart's bargain racks even care?  It's not like I demand haute couture in my sleepwear.  If it wasn't for this pandemic, I would insist that my style maven (aka Sylvie) make regular visits to make sure I hadn't fallen off the wagon completely.

With the onset of three good frosts in a row, I had picked everything off the tomato vines and the pepper plants that I thought would ripen.  I will have to say that my favorite tomato of all time is now the Mushroom Basket tomato.  It turns a beautiful dark red, is hugely meaty and sweet.  I had very little problem with the one plant I got from Marianne and most of the green tomatoes are ripening.
Mushroom Basket tomatoes with a
Pineapple tomato thrown in just for fun.

The peppers were disappointing, but then it was a very frustrating year for the garden (and the gardener).  I also think that they did not get enough sun, so I will be changing beds next year.

While my sister was attacking the monster hops vine with vigor, I managed to save some hops.  I am not a beer drinker or maker, but had a niggling memory of reading something about their herbal aspects in the back of my mind.  Sure enough, hops are related to marijuana and hemp and have soothing qualities when drunk as tea.  Cindy and I tried it out one night and it seemed to work.  They are bitter, but not unpleasantly so, in my opinion, of course.  Nothing that a bit of honey can't smooth over.  I dried two quart jars full and will dose myself as needed.

It must be officially autumn because my cooking mojo has resurfaced.  I've roasted vegetables, baked up a batch of delish pumpkin raisin GF muffins, baked dog biscuits, made cranberry applesauce for the freezer, and will be working my way through the rest of the apples this weekend.  I still have a head of green cabbage and a head of red cabbage to work some magic on, too.  Now all I need is the energy to match the food supply.
Cranberry Applesauce.
It tastes better than it looks!

I have been binge-listening to P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster recordings, with the result that certain expressions have entered into my conversation with alarming regularity - I say!  I trickle in and out.  I "what ho!" when entering the house.  Things have become rather fruity.  I better wean myself off this path or I may never look back.

I have had a communication from the Mothership (which I prompted, after days of radio silence) and my last day will be Friday, October 9.  We have worked out an amenable separation agreement and I will be glad when it is finally done.  Of course, negotiating my way through Social Security and Medicare has been jolly fun.  There may be a lapse between work coverage and Medicare, but that is how it goes.  I will swaddle myself in bubble wrap and stay put until the coast is clear.

I would also like to thank Debby - she who was not only the bright spot in my week, but the sun rising!

Pardon me whilst I dash off to cast a critical eyeball on the state of Peanut's talons.

A pawdicure is on the near horizon.