Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Monday: REM-- Everybody Hurts

So-- it has been a day. L and I did back to school shopping and birthday shopping. I did laundry, we were up early to get E to camp and then pick him up and then back to shopping to get his back to school shoes.

As I type this I am icing my jaw. Ouch.

All I can say is this has been significantly more painful than I had bargained for.

I stopped the big guns pain killer, as I am home alone with the kiddos. Tonight I am having another one. H is coming home.

It hurts.

Tonight it throbs.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer yarden

To say that the bulk of this summer has been brutal is not overstatement. We have had some epic thunder storms and unprecedented temperatures and heat index readings. Our grass has felt more like a Brillo pad than a lush green carpet.

I will give H props. He has tended his tomato plants and we are starting to see the fruits of his labor. We have had to water nearly every day.

While H is laboring in the yarden, some us prefer to laze around. This planter of catnip and the hostas are her favorite lounging spaces.

H has celebrated the few but mighty raspberries he has grown. We got some transplants last summer from a twitter connection. I will admit, those berries are very tasty.

H has invested in anti-deer netting

Last year I feared our blacked eyed Susans were all gone. This year we have a few volunteer-- on the opposite of the yarden. I don't ask, I just enjoy the flowers where they choose to flourish.

My glads have really, really struggled this summer for obvious reasons. H and I were laughing the other morning, it is funny how they bloom in shifts. Nice, but strange.

These were the first to bloom

Then these beauties (see the brown grass...)

and after last week's rain, these bright yellow ones joined us

For years this was tiny and low to the ground. This year it achieved bush status. I bought it for 99 cents late a few summers ago. I have no idea what it is.
Normally these guys wait until August-- but since August weather joined us in early July, they can be excused for being seasonally confused.

It hasn't been all joy in the yarden this summer. Our trees have taken it tough with the strong winds and we lost our beautiful titmouse. I assume he is fine, but his house was lost cause.

Apparently he did not have insurance and honestly, I didn't see anyway to put his shattered abode back together again.
I am hoping the increase in rain will get the yard greener again and keep the flowers coming well into the fall.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

DIY: Dip dyed party dress

I tweeted at the time, if this works out I am taking all the credit and if it was a bomb, I was going to blame Pinterest.

I am pleased to say it turned out beautifully.

Finished dress
So here is the process.

Find a dress. I found this fun strapless number on the clearance rack at Old Navy. It was off white with white stitching. I loved the style of the dress and the stitching work. I also loved the price. It was marked down to $11. Not a huge loss if I ruined it in the dying process. I had tried to find something a a few local thrift stores, but I had very limited success.

Plain off-white cotton dress

Close up of the beautiful stitching.

I prefer to work with Rit dyes and in liquid form. The powdered ones are ok, but I get the best results with the liquid ones. I settled on Petal Pink.

I used alittle over half a bottle of dye and 1 c. of kosher salt.
Then I did some prep work. I measured the dress and decided how I wanted to layer the color. Then I used our drying rack and pants hanger and played with placement of the dye bath and the dress. This took a bit of time, but it was worth it in the end.

And yes, I am fancy. I use a trash can for my dye bath.

See the ring from the last time I dyed jeans?

So I created the bath, positioned the dress roughly 2/3 of the way into the dye bath and let it sit for 3 hours. Then repositioned the dress, so only a 1/3 remained in the dye bath and let is go for another three hours.

I removed the dress, let it dry for a few hours and then washed the dress in cool water. The remainder of they dye delicately tinted the top 1/3 of the dress, just as I had hoped it would.

I am left with a pretty three-toned pink frock, which I have worn a few times already and everyone seems to really like it. I have paired it with a pink necklace. Mom is probably rolling her eyes-- pink is not generally my go to color, but in this case I think it makes the dress just perfect. (Mom was a huge fan of pink.)

On a side note, I wasn't sure what would happen to the stitching. On the off-white dress, the stitching is almost lost, as it is white-on-white. After my efforts-- the beautiful stitch work really pops. I think that may be my favorite part of the dress now.

This is a totally easy fix for a tired old dress or a ho-hum frock on the clearance rack!

Total cost-- maybe $15 and about 6-7 hours of time. (well an hour of active time and about 6 hours of the dress hanging out in the dye.) When I wore this dress to dinner for my birthday-- I felt like a million bucks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The adventure continues: Trader Joe's

Part 2 of my answer to Allie's cry for help when shopping Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

I have very mixed feelings about Trader Joe's. Once upon a time, I shopped there much more frequently. My problem with Trader Joe's is two fold-- their produce just isn't that great and their handling of gluten free information and manufacturing practices has been known to be suspect. When I ate nuts--  I was there alot, but now less so.

That said I do like their store. I do shop there. I think they are a great boutique grocery store.

1. They have some real hits and some real misses. In terms of the price to quality ratio, I think they fantastic. There is real value to be found at Trader Joe's.  For rice and soups and other interesting sauces, I think you can do well at Trader Joe's. Interesting cookies, crackers and chips-- wonderful. I go there specifically for their plantain chips and crunchy green beans. Both gluten free and yummy and reasonably healthy. L likes their seaweed snacks. E likes their nuts. In terms of dried fruit and nuts and mixtures, their selection is impressive and competitively priced. In terms of gluten free goodies-- well the selection is hit and miss.

2. Wine selection. For inexpensive, drinkable wine I think they have a respectable variety. One of my favorite Proseccos is at Trader Joe's. You can also but single bottles of beer, which is nice if you just want to try something new. Charles Shaw is very drinkable (aka 2 buck Chuck and is great for sangria.)

3. Hands down they have a great cheese and cured meat selection. High quality and tasty.It is prepackaged, but competitively priced.

4. Quality food and focused on convenience.(They have improved their shelf tags. It is easier to find what is Kosher, Vegan and No Gluten Ingredients. This is a major improvement, which I have noticed recently.)

5. Dairy products and soymilk-- a nice selection and a reasonable price.
I think this is what sets them apart and makes them worth the trip. They promise if it carries their label-- it is free chemicals and is NGM. This is important to me. Sometimes I want a Dosa. And let's face it, I am just not always up for the process that is DOSA making. Their dosas are free of weirdness and very tasty. The kids like to have "snack" items in their lunches from time to time. I can feel good about what I buy at Trader Joe's. L likes some of their frozen Mexican and Asian items-- like burritos and pot stickers. Their frozen veggies are always tasty and high quality.

Given my food restrictions, when we travel we often look for a place with a kitchen or kitchenette. We also google the nearest Trader Joe's. I am not always up for cooking on vacation, so Trader Joe's is a good place to get healthier than average convenience items.

6. The coffee is decent and reasonably priced. Want fun flavored beverages for a party, their selections is nice. (H and I were big fans of their coffee back in the day when we were drinking coffee.)

My advice is to go at an off time and just look around. The stores are small and cramped. They cram in as much as possible. I don't think of Trader Joe's as a grocery store per se. You can get interesting things there. For example-- some of their spices are fun and different. You cannot get cumin there. They are a great place to go, to find something different to spice up your packed lunch routine. Write down the items that appeal to you or surf their website and create your own list template. I think this will make the trip to Trader Joe's less overwhelming. Also, do check out their taste testing center. They do a great job of feature their items and giving you practical how-tos. New products will be featured on end caps-- look there first.

Having a party, they have some great frozen items which make great party foods.

Have a chocolate addiction? Let me say they have a impressive variety of chocolate covered yumminess.

My latest addiction-- the bag of fruit leather end pieces-- the leftover bits from those perfect rectangles you get in single serving packages. Yummy. Great pared with dark chocolate.

And their all purpose spray cleanser. Non-toxic and it works. I have used that for years.

I think the trick is-- don't think of them as a grocery store, they are more of a foodie adventure playground.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In a word-- Ouch!

So I purposefully did not tell very many people about my trip to periodontist. Why? Cuz I really didn't want to know about anyone's experience or their sister's cousin's husband's horror story.

The fact is I had some moderate to severe receding of the gums, lower front and around the very far right molar. I have known this for a few years. Actually we have been watching it for 10 years now. In the last three, watching it get alot worse. Last year, I should have done something about it, but mom was very ill and dying and I just couldn't go there.

This spring, I had two consultations, picked the doctor I liked best and then had to figure out a week, where H was home to take me and I could have a peaceful weekend to rest up.

On purpose I did zero research and listened/read zero first hand stories. Both doctors were very clear about what they intended to do, the best course of action and I just did not want to hear anyone's horror stories. I also did not try and check it out on You Tube. My dentist had been clear in his referrals and was very candid about what he thought would need to be done. Both periodontists gave me written information. I made an informed decision, but skipped the possibly inflammatory stories.

Beside the gum grafting procedure, I had a frenectomy on the lower lip as well. My doctor felt that the lower frenulm was causing some of the gum pull, which speeds the erosion.

I elected to have these procedures with just the local. I do not react well to the drugs used to knock you out and having never tried the gas, I wasn't sure how that would go either. I have no allergy to Novocaine, so that is what we went with. Boy howdy did I get the mother load of Novocaine! I lost track how much she was injecting me with.

I won't lie, being awake and watching her sew gum tissue together in the reflection of her glasses was not fun. I closed my eyes. Twice my mouth started to "wake up" and I was not a hero, I went for more Novocaine. I think there was an impressive amount of blood involved too.

It really wasn't fun, but it wasn't horrible either. It took about an hour.

One of the amazing things and something that put me at ease going into the procedure was that she called in a RX ahead of time for me to pick up. H and the kids went to lunch and to play in the park while I was under the knife and came back when I was done. We came straight home and I took my painkillers and antibiotic. No waiting at the pharmacy. I loved that she was proactive and so focused on my convenience and comfort.

I will say I wasn't lying when I posted this to my facebook page about 25 minutes after getting home--->
    • I never thought I would say this-- but I have discovered something that hurts worse than natural childbirth! Way worse. Way,way,way worse...

Honestly as I was thawing out, boy howdy that hurt, throbbed. I was shocked how much it hurt. It took a little while for the pain pills to start working and ice helped, but it hurt. So much more than I had expected. This is the downside to Novocaine. It does not slowly fade, it is zero to 60. I have a high pain tolerance. I do. I birthed an 8 pound baby with no drugs. I labored with a Pit drip and birthed a 7.5 pound baby, no drugs. This dental procedure, hurt like a bitch before the pain pills kick in. It is a pain like I have never felt before.

If you are curious about the the process I found this blog post which sums it up nicely. My stars I hope she is right when she says it isn't that bad the next day. I have managed some carrot, orange ginger juice and a good sized chunky monkey shake. Sipping water also seems to soothe and keeps that dry mouth feeling at bay. I made myself some lentil soup and veggie broth and thawed some homemade apple sauce. Soft food will be the name of game for at least a week.

There is a chance the graft won't take. That is something I just don't even want to think about. I am not sure I am up for trying this again. Then again listening to her go over the dental implant information as the Novocaine took effect, let's just say that route doesn't sound any less painful.

Cross your fingers.

The adventure of Trader Joe's and Whole Foods

This post is inspired by my fellow blogger and totally awesome freelancer Allie! Yesterday evening she tweeted: Will someone write a blog post about what they love most at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods? When I go into those stores I get overwhelmed. 

So-- to answer the question, I am going to break it into two parts-- What I love most about Whole Foods and What I love most about Trader's Joes. Seeing as I love Whole Foods more, I will tackle that one first.

What I love most about Whole Foods: A List of Sorts

1. Corporate Values. I know when I buy something like fish or meat, that the butcher or fish monger can tell me where it is comes from, how it was raised, how it was killed and where it has been at all points in between. Same with the eggs. Same with the produce. When I walk into Kroger or Giant Eagle, they don't know or won't tell me. I could be getting pink slime. There is no pink slime at Whole Foods. Pink Slime has no place in my food.

The same applies through out the aisles. When I buy crackers at Whole Foods, they are food and not chemicals. The rule at our house is if we cannot pronounce it and it is found in a chemistry set, we do not eat it.

This dedication to full disclosure is very, very important to me. I will only buy grocery store prepared foods at Whole Foods. They have no problem telling what is in something and they will 9 times out 10 be able to yell back into the kitchen and talk to the person who actually made it. They routinely make sushi that is labeled wheat free. No questions there. For me this is very, very important.

2. 365 Everyday Value Products If I had a dollar for every time someone gets up in my shit and tells me I am wasting money or spending too much money at "Whole Paycheck" I would be rich. Honestly, all of these people are wrong. When they compare what they spend at Whole Foods with what they spend at another grocery store they are rarely comparing apples to apples. Yes some things are more expensive. A BMW will always be more expensive than a Pinto or a Yugo.

I still believe in investing in quality. I think one of the best indicators of this is their 365 line of products. This is the Whole Foods house brand. I haven't been disappointed yet. Nor have I bought a 365 products and thought to myself, well this is what you get for buying the house brand or the discount knock off. Our favorites include the 365 Ketchup, the all natural ginger ale, the all fruit spreads (fruits of the forest is a family favorite), the garbanzo and black beans, Everyday Value sparkling water and flavored sparkling water, butter and sour cream. Oh bless I forgot to mention the fruit bars, which are like NutriGran bars-- but minus all the weirdo chemicals and hello-- they cost less! No mystery ingredients and no fillers. I think they compare to the brand names that you would buy and again I know I am getting good stuff, made in a good plant by trusted partners.

3. I love that the cheese department sells real cheese. I think the Giant Eagle Marketplaces share this concept, but I can ask the person behind the cheese counter and get real help! They have a nifty little basket of cheeses-- little bites, for the single person, for DIY cheese trays and to try. All under $4. I live for this basket. It is nice to try something and be delighted.

Now what do I think is helpful for the new Whole Foods shopper-- make a list. Do not try to go into the store and take it all in. I didn't and I don't. I shop with a list. I also use their online deals and their in print Whole Deal magazine and coupons.

4. Commitment to change. This makes me crazy, but they are on trend and always trying to bring new products to the shelf. Sometimes this makes me twitchy, but honestly we get into ruts and this commitment to change and new products has helped me be in less of a rut. I like that they do in store tastes and features and they change the end caps regularly. I have discovered non-corn starch powdered sugar and lots of great for me items this way. It challenges my desire for routine, but it has been helpful.

I cook. Pure and simple. We do not eat frozen meals and we do not eat alot of packaged foods. Those items are expensive everywhere you shop and Whole Foods is no different. Quality produce is expensive no matter where you shop. Organic produce is expensive no matter where you shop. I have chosen to focus my shopping at Whole Foods for the reasons above. I still go other places. In fact, Whole Foods decided to stop stocking the type of Silk the kids prefer. I discovered that Target carries it and at a very reasonable price. So when I am there, I get it there. L is now drinking calcium forfeited OJ, because she cannot seem to tolerate the quantity of soy or dairy she needs to get enough calcium. The OJ is cheaper at Target, for the same product, so I get it at Target.

So here is my short list of tips to shop Whole Foods and not get overwhelmed:

1. Make a list
2. Resolve to try out one new section that visit (say visit Whole Body-- give yourself 7 minutes to explore. Next time visit the deli.  The next visit the nut roaster...)
3. Ask for help. They are happy to help.
4. Do not go on Saturday or Sunday. Or Friday night (wine tasting night) or Monday morning (stupid, stupid loud zumba until 11 am) Go at an off time for your first few visits. I still do that. Saturday morning at Whole Foods makes me want to jump into oncoming traffic.
5. Limit yourself to 1 or 2 non-list purchases. This will curb the desire to try everything all at once.

Also it is important to note-- while you can do all your shopping at Whole Foods, most people don't. I do the majority of my shopping there, but not all. In the summer, I am hardly there. We eat from the farmer's market and our CSA and my pantry stock. I also have had to branch out as I have described above.

Later this week, I will talk about Trader Joe's.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Monday: Otis Redding-- Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

This last week has been busy and meaningful, full of love. I celebrated my birthday in style with my loves and I most especially took some time out for me. I have been needing quiet time for me.

We are now turning the corner into the last weeks of summer vacation. E heads to camp in a week, L is preparing to celebrate her birthday and my little people and I are taking a short trip to the beach to visit my sister right before school starts.

As I thought about what to write about today, I pondered the past week and the next few weeks and I had a lazy summer vibe wash over me.

Kinda like this song...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All those Veggies and all that heat...

Hi. My name is Susan and I have a problem-- During periods of extreme heat, I eat the veggies raw.

Yep. I refuse to cook when the temperature is over like 85 degrees. Since we have been in a period of extreme heat, I have been eating the CSA share raw.

In fact we got some amazing peaches, which were so good and juicy. Great for pies. During periods of extreme heat, fantastic eaten raw.

This summer we have eaten some of the best blueberries I have ever tasted. All raw. I am sure they would have tasted just divine in muffins, cobblers and pies. During periods of extreme heat, they tasted mighty good raw.

We have had an amazing variety of apricots. I had dreams of homemade apricot preserves. Only, the idea of boiling water in the canning pot made me blanch, so we have eaten the yummy apricots raw.

I have made some corn muffins with fresh sweet corn. Last week, as the heat abated slightly, I made a layered casserole of potatoes, eggplant and fresh tomato sauce, which was oh so yummy.

So alas, I have nothing really to tell you about the veggies and my kitchen. Hopeful this cooler, rainy pattern continues and I will be motivated to cook again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday: Beatles's Birthday

Today is my birthday.

Here are some stats:

  • Today is my first birthday since Mom died. 
  • Today is the last birthday of my 30s
  • This is my last birthday while L will be in single digits. She celebrates a decade in less than 2 weeks.
Here's to having a Happy Day!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Music Monday: Katy Perry

I will be the first to admit, pop music is not my favorite genre. That said with a soon to be tween dance obsessed daughter, pop music is being played in the car with more frequency. While she still likes alternative and tolerates her dad's techno/house obsession, she is listening to what her friends are listening too more often. She has Pandora on her iPod and knows how to use it, better than I do.

When we saw the trailer for the Katy Perry movie, I told the kids we could go. Surprisingly, I liked it. I like Katy's message to girls-- embrace who you are. So what if you are "weird." There is so much pressure on kids and specifically girls to fit molds and there are so many. (as a side note, E now wants me to take him to Japan for our next trip so we too can go to the tea house, where there are cats...)

I love that Katy creates a world where girls can be girls. Katy isn't a bean pole and she embraces that-- and she embraces the need to work out to keep up with her shows. She loves dress up and her tour was like a candy land surprise.

I also appreciate that Katy sings about being a girl, being sexy and being an owner of her sexuality. Sending girls the message that they need to be "sexy" but cannot own their sexuality is dangerous. Our culture's treatment of female sexual desire is beyond screwed up. Women should be desirable, but should not desire. (and trust me-- ET is all about sexual desire... something men sing about all the time. And for me, it speaks to the magic that can be found with in-- for some sexuality and embracing your own innate sexuality leads you to the divinity within all of us.)  I also think this is at the root of birth control and sex ed debate-- it certainly is the root of female circumcision in the Middle East and Africa. If the larger patriarchal culture can control and CONTAIN female sexual desire and to drill down-- if men can control women's sexual desire and their expression of their sexuality-- then they can control women. When women are viewed as and used to satisfy men's sexual desires and denied their own, one has absolute control. Better yet? Get other women to agree with you... and then bingo-- you are on easy street. Religion does this very well. Our culture still tries to do this with varied results.

I remember very clearly in college. I loved Madonna. I still do. She is one of the first artists to do it her way. She pushed the envelope. She was taking it on her terms. I also remember being told by my "feminist" friends that I shouldn't like Madonna. Bullshit. Women do not have to deny their sexuality to be a good ________. (you pick a word.) Why is it we have to deny our sexuality at all. Sex is a healthy part of life. Awareness of sexuality naturally starts very young and progresses as development progress. Why do we think we should shelter and contain our kids from something that is natural and normal and healthy...

I think it is important to be age appropriate, but at a certain point, the kids need to be allowed to ask questions and figure it out... in my view 18 is a bit late for that to happen.

I respect Katy, she walked away from a path which would have very much pleased her parents and meant living in denial of who she knew she was. I talked to L about this the other night. Her parents brought her up in a bubble... I think that is dangerous and it happens all the time. I have taken a different path with my kids. Katy gambled and was willing to accept the fact that being herself might mean losing her parents. She choose herself and I think that makes her a great role model. Being true to yourself is amazingly difficult sometimes.

We need to stop stuffing conformity down our kids throats and let them find themselves-- within themselves. I appreciate Katy's message to girls-- be yourself, embrace "your weirdness" because it is yours!

Hot n Cold

Firework-- for L and my BFF-- both of whom are awesome!

And ET... my favorite I think...  altho I like very much...

Part of me

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Group Insurance and "Bogus Choices"

So here is a comment I ran into a few weeks ago on NARAL OH's page:

I find it ironic how people demand freedom of choice to have sex using birth control and then get an abortion while in the same breath demanding that it be funded by others who do not hold the same values. Why is it that one group feels it can force another to violate its moral conscience. If people want to use birth control and or get an abortion why can't they pay for it on their own dime. People need to stop making other people pay for their bad choices and actions and start taking responsibility for their own actions. This ultimately is what the real issue is here, but it seems that folks who demand pro-choice don't want to hear that. Instead what they hear when subsidized funding is going to be taken is that their rights are being violated allowing them to make their own decision. But really if people want to make their own decisions then they should get to pay for them to.
This was my reply:

Actually -- when we participate in all insurance we pay for things we may or may believe in. For example, I don't for one minute think people should consume any artificial colors or favors and fake sugars or  high fructose corn syrup. I am pretty sure a huge portion of my health insurance dollars are going to cover diabetic treatments and hypertension drugs for people who have failed to look after their weight and health appropriately. But that is part of deal. Don't even get me started on people who choose to smoke, knowing the risks and then want me to cover their O2 supplies and or cancer treatments. Hello, it is scientific fact that smoking leads to lung cancer and other lung diseases. But because I understand how insurance works-- I pay my premium-- even though I really do not approve of those other people's choices.

Maybe people who don't want to pay for birth control or abortion as standards of ob/gyn care as approved by the FDA and various medical boards and medical ethics committees should, oh I don't know go find your own insurance and leave the test of us who get how group insurance works alone.

Let's indulge in a little Business 101-- which I am qualified to teach-- seeing as I have earned an MBA...

Insurance Company Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses.

So this is the basic business model for ALL insurance. The idea behind insurance is transferring or sharing risk. We can quibble all day-- about earned premium and how to define it, in terms of health insurance it is the money we pay in premium from our pay combined with our employer contribution (which is why COBRA is so blooming expensive-- you pay the whole entire amount... yours and your former employers.)

When a independent business owner(solo practitioner) or freelancer goes to an insurance provider, often times they purchase an individual contract, the rules for those are different, there is more risk to the insurance company, they are insuring one person or one family. Group insurance, like what most of us have at work, the rates are based on the pool of people and not the individuals. As such this is why there are no physicals and many of these plans are covered by ERISA-- which is a complex set of Federal guidelines which cover all manner of employee benefit plans. (Big Gov't is already nosing around your insurance. Has been since the 60s.)

So even though I am fit and active and eat a super healthy mostly organic diet, the person two cubes over might well smoke, gobble Doritos, never drink anything but Coke, and refuse to climb stairs. They might well choose to do drugs on the weekends or on the flip side engage in weekend warrior behaviors that their body is really not up for... I get no say in that. They get to make their own choices. We all pay a premium based on the group's overall costliness annually.

Let's go back to our formula:

Insurance Company Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses.

Ever since insurance companies became publicly traded companies, the Profit is basically guaranteed. No CEO is going to steer the company in a direction that does not generate shareholder (his) wealth. Not. Going. To. Happen.

So the Insurance company will do their best to control costs of underwriting and administration (aka loss), they will seek to curb the benefits paid out (EOB with bullshit exclusions and other delay tactics designed to just not pay claims) and other limits to what they will and won't pay for. I am not saying fairly and disclosed limits are not kosher. They are. Asking people to pay a portion of the costs is fair-- if it is clearly disclosed.

(self funded plans are another animal, but the idea is the same... yearly surplus is substituted for Insurance company profits and ERISA governs the proper use of this as well.)

Another way to ensure profit is to continually raise premium costs to participants. I have never not had a premium increase on a year over year basis. Once-- at my first job out of college, we got a rebate. A small one. Not nearly equal to what we paid a month in premium.

So we all pay for life style choices we may not agree with. Most major religions come with prohibitions and some overlap and others are in direct opposition. We all pay for our co-workers' lifestyle choices which are in direct conflict with our own.

I say for as long as our employers demand we pay a portion of the premium, any portion, then we all should have a say in the coverage. Or there should just be a standard of coverage which is universal. Sex is no more a risky or costly choice than smoking. They both have known and frankly quantifiable, in terms of costs, possible outcomes which impact the underwriting of insurance. Insurance companies have priced out the cost of every sneeze and hangnail.

So I think we have a few choices-- nix group health insurance and have it be every man, woman and child for themselves. Individual policies all around. Which would be pricey, but technically speaking no one would be paying for other people's choices. (although that likely isn't exactly true. Insurance companies pool their premium dollars, so this would be to their benefit, they charge more for individual policies and still have a pool of dollars to invest and pay out, but technically speaking your premium would be based solely on you and your families health and choices, and age.)

Or we just take some time to understand how group insurance works and accept that discrimination isn't really in any of our best interest, because I am not all that tolerant of smokers and I know I have shouldered the burden of their "choices" to poison themselves and their loved ones for years... way longer than I was ever on birth control... and I am willing to bet next month's premium it costs us all alot more to cover smokers and smoking related illness than comprehensive gynecological care ever will.

So unless we are going to not cover people who are smoking because of the choices they are making-- I think the argument that childbearing and birth control and family planning are "choices" is bogus.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Letter A...

I have read The Scarlet Letter more times than I care to remember. Oy, it is dense prose, so very dense. That said I was thinking about my recent music Monday post. I don't want to go back to 1776 or even 1850, the time Hawthorne was writing and certainly not 1680-- the time of Hester Pyrnne. Have the people who speak about going back-- really read any of the literature of time, cracked a history book? I don't think so.

I certainly do not want trade my freedoms now for a life that Hester and her daughter Pearl would have lived. A life of a theocracy. Puritan legalism is still alive and well in our culture, it is dying but it was in full force in Hester's life. There is a movement, among mostly Republicans to go back, to go back to this time, where "god" was a legal scholar and where one interpretation of truth and justice was the only interpretation. The grand irony is, when they branded her with the A-- for adulteress, and cast her out, she found freedom. She had rejected their ways and rejected their culture and found a new way. A way of enlightenment. In many ways Hawthorne is speaking through Hester but even in his life time, there was little religious freedom. There was not one state church, but American culture was very wrapped up in repressions of a religious sorts. It was also a time of great rebellion-- on the continent and soon to be had in the United States. Some say Hester is a metaphor for countries and revolution and enlightenment. Maybe so, but the reality is, this is the status of women, at the time. What I have always loved is Hawthorne at least made her an active participant in her life. She was not seduced or raped. She conceived a child in love, at least we are lead to believe that.

I will also give Purtians their due-- unlike our culture, which is very much rooted in Victorianism, males who committed adultery where also branded. That means men like Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Bill Clinton and John Edwards would have similarly been branded.

In the North-American Puritan settlements of the 17th century, men and women sentenced for having committed acts of adultery were branded with an "A" letter on their chest (men) or bosom (women). (from Wikipedia)

 That aside, I do not want to return to a time where other people's morality are the judge and jury of my behavior. We can all have an opinion about adultery, mowing the lawn on Sundays, the consumption of beer and wine or brewed anything for matter, eating meat or not eating meat and so on and so on. There is no one right answer. Since our country is founded on the very principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It really does not get anymore clear:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (see the real deal here)

So I fail to see how we can say in one breath (I am looking at you GOP) that we want to go back to the time the Bill of Rights was written and then in the next breath say that we need to protect God's commandments? Oh really, which ones and which God? There are so many versions and flavors running around. (and btw I don't really care for any of them.)

Women were no more free and equal partners in 1850 than they were in 1680. Adultery is still illegal in many states in 2012. Now branding, thank goodness is no longer the punishment, but the law is still on the books. (and Ladies... the rules for you are vastly different than for the men. In fact it really is all on us ladies. Oh goodie, look how far we have come...)

I hope I am being convincing here. I really don't want to go back. The correct direction is forward. We learn as we grow and from our mistakes. Remember in 1776 they walked around in their own sewage. On a hot day that had to be so pleasant. Our laws should always error on the side of inclusion. They should not be based on anyone's holy text and they should not ever make someone a 2nd class citizen.  If we think a behavior is inappropriate or a social custom isn't for us, then we don't do it. We can write about it, we can join groups of like minded people, who also don't do it, we can build big buildings and hang out with other people who don't do it, we can discuss with our children openly and honestly why we do or don't so something,  but we cannot make laws that force everyone to do it this "one right way aka OUR way." There isn't one right way.

I like my tea, my bacon, and freedom. I don't like tobacco, raw sewage and narrow minded people.

See, there was that so hard? No need to go back. If some people want to wallow in their own sewage, I am not going to stop them. I am not going to visit them either.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Irony

I stumbled upon this cartoon via various Twitter sources and I think it is worthy of posting. The thing I cannot  stand most about most people is the hypocrisy of their opinions, most especially about politics, most especially about the legislation of social issues.

I love that Senators on the far right, who keep trying to slap their religious views all over my body, bristle over the fact that the Congress passed a health care tax package(so says the Supreme Court-- who totally made a judicially conservative ruling btw), which they reject.

So which is it-- the government can control women's access to health care but women's and women's alone? A woman's employer should have more rights than she in the matters of insurance coverage based on his or her religious values-- even though the employer requires her to pay a portion of the premium? I have seen in my life time the erosion of my choices and the availability of those choices. I have been denied care by a pharmacist who did not agree with the availability of a drug which has FDA approval. I shelled out roughly 14% of my take home pay to purchase an insurance policy, which covered nothing in terms of GYN care or birth control... because my employer thought it was trivial. A little known fact-- most of us are covered under ERISA health care plans-- so guess what-- the government has been involved in your health care insurance for a long time-- the Department of Labor to be specific.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Veggies!

There will be no update this week. Sorry guys. With the storms and the heat, I have been eating raw and hiding out.

Also Green Bean canceled for this week. They are such a good company. Instead of trying to piece it together and make their employees drive on roads in unknown states of safeness and deliver to people who really have nowhere to put their produce (and no way to contact them with no electricity or internet access) given they still have no power, they deferred. I love them for it! That is putting people before profits and that is what a community partner does. We can all wait until the roads are safe and the power is back on.

I also want to give a shout out to Whole Foods Dublin. They had cooling and charging stations set up in the store and provided free water and snacks to those with no power. I love that. That is what a true community partner does. Full disclosure: I am a Whole Foods shareholder. I have been since 2000. They are a good company, who has found a way to be big and still treat their employees and the community they do business in ethically. I really don't care if some things cost more-- it is worth it.

And last but not least: My CSA from Wayward Seed. There is no Dublin Market on July 4th -- so I will not be picking up my share this week until Saturday at the Worthington market. I am happy to report that we have eaten most of what we got and mostly raw, as it has just been too hot to cook. I do see a peach pie in our future and I did sautee the summer squash and new potatoes with some onion and it was yummy. Very fresh and like a taste of summer.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Music Monday: Get a History Book Please

So in honor of our nation's birthday, I would like to humbly suggest to every arm chair constitutionalists, every senator and every member of the house and every governor hurry to their local library and or surf on over to Amazon and check out some history books. I would humbly suggest getting books from a variety of sources-- for example, it will not kill liberals to read more conservative texts and conservatives to check out some liberal texts. The ultra religious would be well served by reading some texts by those of an agnostic bent and agnostics would not be struck down by reading some texts written by ardent believers.

The point of this is-- relying on a single source or a single flavor of sources IS not the basis for forming a well rounded opinion. The truth, is almost always in the middle. One cannot in my opinion effectively reach the middle or come to terms with any subject or effectively reject a position until one has examined said issue from all the angles.

Also, one has to be dedicated to understanding the realities of what was in the past. I cringe when I hear people, mostly white middle aged men, saying we need to return to the government of founding fathers. Um, women could not vote in 1776, they could not own property, actually they were property and owning slaves and indentured servants was perfectly legal and encouraged. Monogamy was not the norm, certainly not for men of means. We actively drowned women calling them witches, using way less than humane or scientific means of truth extraction.  People were jailed for debts and small infractions were punished by standing in the public stocks. (Trust me the colonies and early America prohibited all sorts of social behaviors.) The colonists and the early Americans paid a lot of taxes and honestly only property owners actually got to fully participate in the political process. So by all means, let's go back to the time of ...

Beastie Boys-- Paul Revere

(I'll stay right here-- because I have actually read about the early Americans and I think, frankly I will pass. If only to avoid wearing crazy cotton dresses and raw sewage in the streets.)