Dear Clinic; Communication. What a concept.

First came the voice mail on the home phone suggesting I call and make an appointment.

Next, I attempted to make an appointment through the messaging system. I hear you laughing already. Here goes:

Me: I received an automated voice mail suggesting that I make an appointment. Is this necessary?

Clinic Messenger: Yes you are due for a annual Physical in July and medication review and renewal then also.

July? It’s now January. Okay, I’ll try to plan ahead. I’ll  fill out the form and ask for a morning in July.

Scheduler: What is the reason for the appointment? Please list any symptoms you are having so we can give the providers some notes to better prepare them for your appointment.

Me: I received a voice mail saying I was due for an appointment and I should call. It turns out the only appointment I’m due for is a physical in July. Perhaps this was an error in the system? No one seems to be expecting my request.

Scheduler: I looked in your chart, and in our auto-matted phone system and it looks like they were calling about your Hyper-tension-HTN, if you are on medication and are going to need new scripts, you may be due for a Medication Check. That is what they were calling for, not the Physical. If you would like to schedule a appointment for the Hyper-tension please let us know a date and time that will work for you and if you fast for your medication checks. Thanks.

Me: ????? 

Dear Clinic That Shall Not Be Named: Your right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. That’s all.

With all due respect,

Daisy

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Trivia! And tradition!

An encore post from 2010 – really? It’s 2015 now, and the Trivia contest is celebrating its 50th anniversary. I’m listening to Alumni Hour, an hour full of throwback questions and Contest History. Amigo and Chuck are down at the station answering phone. Enjoy the story of this wild and woolly tradition!

Long ago, when I was a teenager, and great woolly mammoths roamed the high school campus, I listened to a radio trivia contest one weekend a year. I enjoyed the crazy music that ranged from bad to worse, the mock advertisements for ridiculous and irreverent products, and of course, the trivial questions. (Who were the fairies in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty? Flora, Fauna, and Meriweather. Come on, ask me a hard one.)

Then I joined a Trivia team. This was still in the prehistoric times; rotary dial phones! We’d use the tip of a pen to dial the numbers so that our fingers wouldn’t get blistered. Really. Books, encyclopedias, and almanacs were our main sources for information that we didn’t already possess in our ever-evolving brains. (The hotel in Psycho? Bates Motel, of course. And Janet Leigh hid the money in a folded up newspaper.)

I played for this team until I transferred schools and began attending classes on the very campus that hosted the contest. By then the phones were push-button types, and the woolly mammoths had moved to less populated areas Up North, but our main information sources were still print books. (Winnie the Pooh lived in the Hundred Acre Wood under what name? Sanders.)

Fast forward several years, through contributions to a few more trivia teams, a marriage, and two kids. We now hosted a team in our home. It was a smaller team, not a top three finisher, but we held our own. Proudly, we invited people to share our home with the bunnies and the books and the new technology: cordless phones and Internet access. We still used a radio boom box, a white board for keeping track of team scores, and a spiral notebook for writing down questions. The woolly mammoths had retreated toward Canada in search of glaciers. (In the movie The Blues Brothers, what is the license plate number of the Bluesmobile? BDR529)

Telephones and radio have changed, but the Trivia contest continues. The radio has gone Internet only, which has actually expanded the contest to people in faraway locations that might still have woolly mammoths. Chuck and I no longer compete for the worthless prizes (the prizes have to be as trivial as the questions), but Amigo plays on his own. He listens to the Internet broadcast, searches for answers online, calls them in on the cordless phone or borrows my cell when the cordless’ batteries go dead. He and Chuck take a shift at the radio station answering phones to take people’s answers — each team that plays finds a way to make a contribution like this to keep the contest running smoothly. (What was the original name of the Popsicle? The Epperson Ice Pop, or the Epsicle)

Trivia (it needs no other qualifying details; all other contests pale in comparison) is a crazy and fun weekend with no equal. Some people take off for warmer climates in January; we’ve always stocked up on knowledge, coffee, hot cocoa, and phones. It keeps us warm. (When Frank Zappa was in ninth grade, he won a Fire Prevention poster contest. What did his poster say? “No picnic. Why? No woods. Prevent forest fires.”)

I still kind of miss the mammoths.

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The rest is just details.

An encore post that stays relevant, not surprisingly, in the NFL or here at home.

A coach from a nearby NFL team talked about three ways to face adversity. He suggested that most people react in one of these ways:

  • Remain oblivious
  • Crumble
  • Embrace it

This philosophy applies to public school teaching as well.

1. I once worked with a principal who remained oblivious to adversity. When faced with challenges, she would spout her buzzwords of “differentiate” and “test scores” without ever answering the questions we raised. She thought she understood, but she was clueless. Simply clueless. And everyone around her knew it.
2. It’s far too easy to crumble as my workload grows and the pay doesn’t, while public support continues to fade. I may react initially with a feeling of failure and hopelessness, but eventually I manage to keep up and cope.
3. I work with a group of teachers who embrace challenges. The pressure wears on us daily, but we hold each other up and look for ways to meet the challenges.

With a week off between Christmas and the New Year (my equivalent of a Bye week), I rested and got myself psyched for going back to school. I brought home a little work, but not a lot. I decided to be realistic and not overload my schoolbag. I’ll log in and grade tests and quizzes, but I’ll leave the time-consuming portfolio assessments for my return to my desk.

Minor injuries? In teaching, that’s more likely to be illness. I had my flu shot, and so did Amigo. It’s the season for keeping hand sanitizer on my desk and water bottle  with filter by my side for hydration.

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Wisdom and Laundry – a slightly revised encore

The original post aired in December of 2008. The philosophy still fits, and the details needed only a few minor updates. Enjoy.

Green washing of Jeans: wash first, dry last. Hang to air dry in between.
This saves time and energy by air drying the wettest of the jeans. They’ll shrink less, too, as they can now dry for a minimal time on the delicate cycle.

20 Mule Team Borax is a good invention.
It smells better than bleach, doesn’t spill (well, I don’t spill it as easily), and takes out stains well. It doesn’t cost as much as commercial detergent boosters, and the paper box is recyclable. I’ve used it to kill weeds, too. Hm. This might mean a little more research is necessary.

Detergent makers usually recommend at least double the amount that’s really needed to wash a load well.
Of course! They want me to buy twice as much of their product. Ha, ha, ha. I’m wise to this trick! My usual detergent is heavily concentrated, too; it works as well as the HE (High Efficiency) detergents in my front loading machine.

Dryers eat socks. Sometimes they spit them out later. I keep an Orphan Sock Box in the closet for socks waiting reconciliation.
This also works if one sock in a pair spouts a hole. When another pair from the same package suffers the same loss, there’s a new mate waiting. If a sock really, really doesn’t have a mate, well, I’m still working on that. Cleaning rags, perhaps.

Just because I do this chore efficiently doesn’t mean I like it.
I’ve learned enough tricks to get the family laundry done quickly and efficiently, get the stains out (mostly), and get all the clothes back in the closets and drawers by the time school and workweeks start Monday morning. It’s a necessity, family, not a pleasure. I’m glad Amigo now handles his own laundry.

Clothes must be washed, no matter what the other plans are. Fit it in.
See above. If we’re going away for part of the weekend, I’ll start sorting and washing ahead of time. If report cards are due, I’ll start a wash load, work on math grades, throw the wash in the dryer, work on reading grades, yada yada yada,

Each and every family member needs to own at least two weeks worth of underwear.
See above. If no one runs out of underwear, laundry can wait a week in a pinch. Maybe. So there’s the wisdom; make sure everyone has drawers in their drawers, and the livin’ is easy.

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Shop Small: Not just Once a Year

Shop Small, and Shop Local!

Shop Small, and Shop Local!

There’s more to this picture than just a reminder to shop small and use my own bag. The bag (cute, with polka dotted back) was free at a small downtown shop on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. If you look closely, you’ll see that also hanging on the kitchen chair is a large plastic bag from Kohl’s. Oops. So much for using my own bag, right?

Well, not exactly. Kohl’s is a Wisconsin company. Its headquarters are near Milwaukee. I shop there carefully to get the most for my frugal dollar. Between discounts and a gift card (earned through a wellness program) and sale racks, I got my money’s worth when I filled this bag.

As for the bag, it’s big. The reusable bags in my purse were not big enough to handle this order (mainly the hiking boots and their box). To make the most of the one-use plastic bag, I’ll make sure it sees at least another day as a wastebasket liner or a container for thrift store donations. I’m green, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes I have to make the best of a less than optimal situation.

So the moral of the story, the resolution to this tale, is this: shop small businesses, shop locally, be green whenever possible and use tools to shop frugally at those local and small businesses. Sound good? Readers, I value your input. Comments are welcome – consider adding your two cents about shopping small and shopping locally.

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What a difference – a new year begins

I usually start the blog year with links to the first post of each month along with a brief summary of the post itself. I decided to try something different for a summary of the year 2014.

2014 threw me more than a few curves. At one point, I posted this:

Strong Enough Now

I entered 2014 with my left eye healing from a detached retina that had been reattached surgically. As January began, I had enough vision and depth perception to see and drive, but it wasn’t fully healed. Wrapping presents while possessing no depth perception was a challenge – no, it was a major hassle.

At the end of January, I had major surgery in the form of hysterectomy. The surgery went well, and all parts healed on schedule. I spent most of February resting and healing and watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi. I learned a lot about ice dancing and learned that Vladimir Putin is really a piece of work.

March came along with a return visit to the neurologist, confirmation of a stroke in 2012, and a referral to another level of specialist: an intervention radiologist. This doctor scheduled a procedure with the possibility of opening a blocked artery by using a balloon catheter and maybe the placement of a stent. This turned out to be the lowest point of the year for me personally. The right carotid artery was 99% blocked. The doctor and his team threaded the needle through the tiny open space, opened it, and placed a stent in the artery to keep it open.

Scary? Yes. Life is precious. And silly posts like these? This one made me laugh out loud – and then stop because laughing was painful.

'Nuff said.

‘Nuff said.

With the help of family, the garden got prepped and planted.

digging dandelions for bunny

digging dandelions for bunny

Summer was full of farmers’ markets, weeding and watering the garden, and slowly gaining my strength back. I met a major goal in September: I walked the mile from home to my workplace. I have yet to do that on a regular basis, but I can handle two large flights of stairs without huffing and puffing. I’m taking that as a sign of progress.

November brought a disappointing and disturbing election on the state level. Legislation and outcomes are yet to be seen, and that’s the disturbing part.

Meanwhile, I reached another six month check-up with positive news: the stent is looking good, blood is flowing, and the cerebral aneurysm on the other side isn’t getting any bigger. My left eye can see again, and I haven’t missed the hysterics that were removed last January, either.

The world had a lot of big events and lost some amazing people (Maya Angelou and Robin Williams, to name just two). On a personal level, I stick to the knowledge that life is precious. I look forward to more healing and growing in 2015.

 

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