Saturday, April 19, 2014

"How Sweet the Sound"

I love the song "Amazing Grace" so much that there are four different versions of it on my iTunes list. My favorite of all of them is today's Saturday Song Selection.

Scenes of Appalachia play in my head when I listen to this one: blue-green mountains layered against the distant horizon, small villages clustered in deep valleys, tall timbers shading creeks where water rushes to tumble over rocks strewn carelessly by the hand of Mother Nature. There's a sense of timelessness in Appalachia, much as there is in this 235-year-old song.


The song is "Amazing Grace," performed beautifully by Mark O'Connor.
Thanks to Mark O'Connor for posting this video on YouTube.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday, Indeed!

I'm not speaking of the religious holiday that falls today, although I know that this day is particularly special for devout Christians and for many not-so-reverent folks who will praise Jesus if only for a day off from work or school. No, I'm just talking about the essential goodness of an ordinary day like today, which happens to be a Friday.

It's warm today, with a gentle breeze, bright blue skies, and puffy white clouds that show no hint of last night's rolling thunder. It's a fine day--a fine spring day--and the weatherman says it'll stay like this through Easter Sunday. It's the kind of day that makes me feel more spiritual than church ever did.

All four dogs are sleeping as I write this, Levi and Gimpy sacked out tail to tail on the futon here in the den, Ollie on the sofa in the living room, and Lucy on the floor about three feet away from me, tucked into a narrow space between a wooden file cabinet and a stack of two plastic storage boxes. The house is quiet except for Lucy's rhythmic snores; even those I find peaceful.

I'm in the middle of a good book, and I did the grocery shopping yesterday, so there's plenty of food in the house (including a Cadbury chocolate egg that keeps whispering my name).

On a scale of 1-10, my sense of well-being is pushing toward 11. I hope your Friday is just as good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Little Bit About Not Very Much

For the past week I've been buried up to my eyeballs in genealogy, digging into step-families and in-laws so that even our youngest family members will have histories that go back five generations or more. Only two still have a lot of blanks: a small brother and sister whose paternal grandparents seem to have arrived on this earth fully grown and untraceable. Maybe they were in the witness protection program; I don't know. I like playing detective, putting the clues together to find the information on my own. To have to go to the horse's mouth and ask directly for names, dates and places takes all the fun out of the research, but that'll have to be my next step.

Genealogy is a great way to spend a cold rainy day like the one we had yesterday. While I was searching, finding, cutting, pasting, entering data and labeling files and photos indoors, it was thundering and raining enough outside--so much rain that only a very small patch of the covered garden-shed porch stayed dry:


It was cold, too, down in the mid-thirties this morning. I can't believe I'm still using the electric blanket in the middle of April.

The oak trees are in full flower, although I think it's a big stretch to use the word "flower" to describe those yellow-brown stringy things that first cling to the leaves and the Spanish moss, then drop to cover the driveways. And when hard rains such as yesterday's wash the pollen down into the grass and water standing on the lawn, some of that pollen sticks to the legs of the dogs, who track it into the house. That would explain my itchy eyes, stuffy nose and sinus headache.


The sun came out late this morning, though, so I tore myself away from the computer long enough this afternoon to go get a haircut, play with my grandson's new puppy, and pick up Chinese food for supper. Now I'm stuffed and sleepy, but I'll try to stay awake to watch "Survivor," "American Idol," and "Nashville." Maybe I'd better DVR them all in case my eyes have other ideas.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I Need a New Doctor, Stat!

My primary care physician (who happens to bear a remarkable resemblance to the Bitstrip avatar at right) has had my trust for twelve or thirteen years, ever since my first visit to her. In addition to being a highly competent professional, she's a warm, likable human being. I'm about to lose her.

In a recent letter she advised that she'll soon change to a concierge-type practice, primarily to reduce the size of her current practice and increase her availability to the patients who stay with her. The letter went on to outline her reasons for making the change, and I understand all of them. I don't blame her a bit.

I'd love to continue being her patient, but the changes she's making will come at a cost, and I can't afford it. There'll be an upfront fee of $1,650 per person per year. I'm guessing that only two groups of people will be willing to pay a fee like that: 1) people who have plenty of disposable income and don't mind absorbing the cost in exchange for greater access to a physician, and 2) folks whose current health issues cause them to spend a lot of time in the doctor's office and who, as a result, are desperate to maintain that important doctor-patient relationship regardless of personal sacrifice. I don't fall into either category.

Normally, I see this doctor twice a year for routine blood work and prescription renewals. At that rate the new fee would amount to $825 a visit, not including actual per-visit charges for office visits, x-rays, lab work, etc., that will still be billed to insurance carriers under the new plan. To fit the annual fee into my budget I'd need to cancel my cable TV and my Internet service, neither of which is crucial to my existence, I realize, but both of which contribute more to the quality of my life than longer doctor's visits would. (I'm knocking on wood now to cancel out any jinxes created by that last sentence.)

So. I wish her well. I really do. If this will make her workday more pleasant, the work itself more rewarding, she'd be silly not to go for it. But I, for one, will miss her.

In the meantime, it's sinking in that I've been plunged unexpectedly into a doctor-shopping race with other soon-to-be-former patients. Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Moving Beyond Lukewarm

Morning is not my best time of the day. I enjoy a good night's sleep so much that I'm reluctant to wake up and leave that dream space; thus I'm a bit zombie-like in the early morning hours. On days like today, when I have things to do and places to go and need to ease gently but quickly into a state of higher energy--and be happy about it--this song always does the trick:


The song is "Man on Fire" by Edwin Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Thanks to the Magnetic Zeros for posting this video on YouTube. 
Click here to read the lyrics.