Monday, November 29, 2021

It's Dead, Jim

  If you are a Star Trek fan you will recognize the reference to when Spock died saving the ship, and Bones told Kirk, He's dead Jim.  So it is with my laptop. This morning the battery was completely discharged, it would not charge, and while we were at the grocery store it died.  Posting maybe a little light in the near future.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Thanksgiving After Action Report

While I was making our sumptuous Thanksgiving feast, Jim went downstairs and retrieved the small box we used to travel with that contained Christmas.  We had the little white (18 inches) tree and some ornaments.  There is a turquoise tree skirt that matches the star.  He decorated and put out some additional seasonal stuff.  I think it looks fabulous. The original lights chose to die as soon as he decorated and plugged the tree in, so we put new lights on it.  It is never going back in the original box again.  Cute, eh?

The Butterball de-boned rolled turkey breast was an epic fail.  It was very salty.  Butterball injected it with something to keep it from drying out.  It was eerily soft when you pushed on a slice of it with a finger.  Never again.  Next year we're going back to cooking a chicken in the cast iron skillet in the grill.  It doesn't put food smell into the house the way the epic fail did.  We tried eating some last night for left overs, but didn't make much headway, so it's over the side along with the remaining stuffing.  You can freeze stuffing, but I forgot that and pitched the leftovers.  Maybe next year.

Yesterday dawned bright and sunny.  It was a gorgeous day for awhile.  Then it clouded up. 

Jim wanted to assemble his new toy.  Yep, we live in snow country now.  Fortunately we have a very short and narrow driveway.  This is big enough.  Our neighbors across the street bought a self propelled giant gas snow blower, but they have more driveway that is steep.  We're flat.  It's corded electric, note that it has an LED light for night  time snow removal.

Anyway, I went over to the side yard to get the leaves off the path.  I've quit bagging them and throwing them away, we're putting them under the rhodies and around the trunk of the Japanese Maple.  Anyway, much to my displeasure, the damn cats are wiggling their butts in behind the pavers and continuing to poop in our yard.  So it was off to Home Depot for more pavers and more bricks to stop the pooping.  Now it looks like this.

They don't dig along the pathway because that dirt stays wet and heavy, they use the dirt that's protected by the overhang of the house.  They're starting to irritate me greatly.

Today was the opening day of Christmas.  We put up our new artificial tree (with flocking), the Dickens Village and a collection of shiny things on top of the gas log mantel.  It's tiring.  We spent a lot of time on our feet.

Collection of shiny things on the mantel.

The Dickens Village. 

This is a tree skirt I made a long time ago.  It was before I quilted much and before I knew I would need a walking foot for my sewing machine to quilt anything.  After sewing the top together (those are individual fussy cut strips) I attempted to quilt it, but no.  The three layers did not travel as one, it bunched up, and it ended up being hand quilted.  The trim around the edge is also attached by hand.  It's a huge skirt.  After leaving Bellevue it hasn't been used, because it's too big. 

So that's it!  An epic turkey failure and Christmas decorations.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

Greetings Citizens of the United States!  How goes your Thanksgiving?  Thus far today I have made corn bread and cooked sweet potatoes.  The oven will be tied up for two hours with the de-boned rolled up turkey breast (which looks a lot like a football) so the sweet potatoes will be mashed and reheated later.  There is something of a timing issue because the football cooks at 325F, which is not hot enough for stuffing.  I suppose there will be resting of the football and turning up of the heat in the oven to finish the stuffing.  It still feels weird not getting up at oh:dark:thirty and putting a 20 pound turkey in the oven for the day.

It was 41 degrees at noon today.  We went for a lovely walk up the hill.  We're doing laps since the trail is so short.  I saw this in the woods.  The white spots are lichens and the green spot is moss, I think.  They're everywhere up there.

 Here is some obligatory Thanksgiving humor from Twitter.

Some people have a lot of time on their hands.

Hope you all have a happy day with you and yours.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

November 23, 2021

Next November, when I'm wondering if it snowed this early the previous year, I will have a historical record.  Yes, it did.  The real estate agent who helped us buy this house, Jamie DeHaven, brought us a pie today.  She brought pie to many people, she's really nice.  Anyway, Jim asked her if fog would be frequent in the winter and the answer to that was yes, as well.  So, snow and fog will be on tap.

This is what we saw this morning.  Apparently it snowed much of the night.  It's been off and on all day.

The agave that came with us from Tucson is enjoying his time under the grow lights.  Another petal has unfurled.  We may keep him in the house all of the time, that new pot is so heavy we're afraid to try lifting it.  Dropping him would be very bad.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Medicare and Fog

By now everybody knows that their Medicare payment is going up next year, right?  Want to know why?  NYT did an article about safety concerns about a new "treatment" for Alzheimer's disease.  A recent report of drug trials reported the following:  "The data showed that 425 of 1,029 patients, or 41 percent, who received the high dose of the drug — the dose that the F.D.A. later approved — experienced either brain swelling or bleeding. Sixty-four patients had to stop participating in the trials because of swelling or bleeding."  From the NYT article, we also learn that, "The F.D.A. approved the drug in June even though a council of senior F.D.A. officials, an advisory committee of outside experts, and many Alzheimer’s specialists said it was unclear whether Aduhelm could benefit patients and that the drug carried serious risks of harm". Not only this, but the drug does not appear to be effective.  Did I mention that it will cost $56,000 a year?  Medicare is going up because CMS is setting aside a reserve fund in case it decides to cover this Alzheimer's drug, Adulem. We have a drug that causes bleeding and swelling in the brain, doesn't work and costs the earth.  Welcome to the United States.

Today we signed up for a high deductible Plan G Medicare supplement and the Aetna Siver Scripts Plan D.  It's giving me a world class case of the willies to leave the plan we've been on since 2007.  It was very comfortable and convenient.  We will ultimately save money, but one of my drugs goes from $30 for 90 days to $98 for 30 days.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I'm sort of pissed about that.  However, our Medigap monthly premium goes from $402 to $47 so that's a win.  There will be more spread sheeting to determine which drugs to fill with Plan D, like the Tier One drugs that don't trigger the deductible, and which will go to GoodRX.  It's all dreadfully tedious, it gives me a headache and makes me very cranky.

Yesterday we went for a walk, the sun was out briefly and so we went up the hill.  Also, we'd been spread sheeting for awhile and I was cranky.  My new Carhartt gloves are much warmer than the cute gloves we got at Kohl's.  I was happy about that.  There was some fog visible out in the distance.  The wool socks are working, as well.  My feet were happy.

This afternoon it is really foggy.

So, other than working with the spreadsheets and fretting, there is not too much happening here.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Drug Coverage, More Boots and Painting

When we were working, we shopped a lot at Nordstrom.  We had embraced the idea of "investment dressing" and we bought fewer but better clothes.  With the advent of casual Fridays, which became casual every day, I started wearing jeans and flannel shirts.  That was partially because of a vent over my head than blew cold air on my feet; it was so cold it made my shins hurt.  Gradually telecommuting became a thing as the company shed real estate, and I worked in pajamas in a bedroom converted to an office.  There was no Zoom then so dressing from the waist up was not required.  Once we retired we shifted to Target and Columbia Sportswear.  Shorts and tee shirts baby!

Now that we're in the north in the winter, shopping has shifted once again.  Are you familiar with Carhartt?  Their demographic is people who work outside.  They have a store in downtown Spokane.  They should carry more stuff for women, but what they do have is well made and reasonably priced.  I got a hat with a pom-pom on top, it keeps my ears warm.  Jim is wearing my polar fleece beanie which is too small for me.  We got good gloves.  Shoes are still an issue.  It can get really cold here, -20F (-28.9C).  It's not often, and not for long, but when it does, insulated boots are a must.  Jim got these at REI, which is also in downtown Spokane.  We're members so we got 20% off on the boots, and the socks were 25% off.  I have never owned wool socks in my life, this will be interesting.

I have two pairs of similar boots coming from LL Bean, I think they're coming via pony express given how long they will take to arrive.

Shopping was Thursday.  We went early, got home early and it started snowing just as we arrived.  This time it was real snow, not graupel.

This was Friday morning, the streets were already melting.

Turkeys across the street. 

Today we looked at the drug plans again, and found a couple of errors in the spreadsheet.  I used to be a master, a savant even, with the spreadsheet, but those days are over.  Plus, I'm using free software which pretty much sucks; Microsoft wants $99 a year to lease software and I'm just not going to do it.  Anyway, an interesting fact is this.  It would cost less money to fill all of Jim's prescriptions using than using either Humana or Aetna's Plan D programs.  Less by a noticeable number.  You must sign up for Plan D coverage, or face increased rates later, so we may go with the plan with the lowest premium and just not use it.  That also gets us out from under paying the Plan D deductible.  The downside to this scheme is that I still have no idea how GoodRX makes money and I always wonder if they will vanish at some point.

OK, here is data from the internet. "GoodRx makes money by selling its technology and ads, as well as through referral fees and a subscription service (its main website and app, with comparative pricing and discounts are free, though). It says it has helped 100 MILLION Americans save more than $10 billion on prescription drugs."  There is slightly more to read in a Forbes article.  So, perhaps they are a viable alternative.

Jim spent some time in the closet today.  He was not bad, he was prepping for painting.  There was a wire rack shelving/shoe rack on that wall.  The little white things held each shelf.  Look behind Jim on the floor, there is an Elfa three drawer unit which could not extend the drawers if the shelving was there.  Each little white thing had to have its screw removed.

Then, each little white thing, turned out to be a hook for the rack and a wall anchor.  Those were removed by pulling them out with pliers.

Then all the holes were filled with spackle.  We're using the kind that comes out of the tube pink and turns white when it dries.  Love that!

While Jim was working in the closet, I boiled turkey entrails with celery and onions.  We're gearing up for our annual salute to the American Day of Gluttony.  I am making stuffing, which we are allowed to eat for two days, and then it all must go out.  We are powerless over stuffing.  There was also the backing up of laptop files.  This year we bought a frozen deboned rolled up turkey breast.  That should be interesting.  Usually we do a chicken.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Weather and Medicare

 Monday was the WIND EVENT.  It was fairly impressive.  There were gusts to 65 at the airport.  On the west side of the Cascades ferries were shut down, trains were derailed, I5 was closed for awhile due to mud and rocks on the road.  It was bad.  Here there were many people without power.  Our area did not lose power and we were very happy about that.  Parts of Canada are just inundated with water as is the Seattle area.

Tuesday we met with an insurance agent.  We've had a Cadillac Medigap policy through our former employer since we retired.  It was great insurance, they paid for everything, there were no extraordinary hoops for the doctors to jump through to get MRIs and the like.  Drugs were included in the cost of the supplement.  However, it costs too dang much.  Much of what we were paying for was convenience, they debited our accounts and paid for everything.  However, with Medicare going up this year, and us being poor pensioners on a fixed income, we're making the break.  What was so interesting about Plan D (drug plan for you non-US citizens) was the number of drugs that are not covered and the prices of many of them that are.  Our out of pocket on drugs will double.  One of mine is not covered, it's a generic, and they want to charge me $500 a month for it.  I'll be using GoodRX for that one ($20 a month).  If you're not familiar with GoodRX, become so.  Quite often they're less money than insurance co-pays.  We will move closer to the donut hole (that period of the year when there is a Congress engineered lapse in coverage) than before, due high retail drug prices.  We've never seen retail prices before, I am shocked and appalled at how bad they are.  Too bad our elected officials are working for big pharma rather than their constituents.

After that beyond tedious appointment with the insurance person, we did the city of Spokane an enormous favor and bought a propane two burner camping stove so in the event of a power outage we can feed ourselves.  They're meant for outside use only, but with a window open we should be fine.  It's not much different than RVers using a Mr Buddy in their rigs.  Coming back from our time out of the house we noticed the sky was looking like the end of days.  We finally decided there were snow clouds out there, but figured it was too warm.  We were wrong!  It's graupel, also known as soft hail or snow pellets.  You could hear it hitting the ground.  So, we're officially in to snow season.

On the way back, we saw this.  It's a milk store.  When I was a kid in Virginia, these were everywhere.  It's odd to see one still in business.  Spokane has several old neighborhoods that still exist as small retail areas, like Hillyard, with their own personality.  It's nice to see not everything has been bulldozed and paved over with housing.  This one is called Garland.

Later there was a partially visible sunset.

This morning there was frost.  It was fairly chilly today.  This will be our first cold winter since 2007.  It should be interesting. 

From the department of amazing stories, we have this. The semi was following too closely, he drove up on to the car and folded it in half.  He received a ticker for $189.  The driver survived with minor injuries.  How about that?

That's it!  Throw another log on the fire.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Weather

Today was eerily warm, the high allegedly was 60.  It felt colder than that to me, but as an ex desert inhabitant, what do I know.  It was windy, as well.  I walked in to Home Depot without my hat and was very uncomfortable without it.  You can buy nice hats at Home Depot for $10.  So I got one for the return to the car.  I wish Lowes was closer, HD is run by a a Republican.

Anyway, the deck was growing mildew.  The first deck wash Jim bought was not getting it done.  So, we went back to Ace, they had neither a stiffer scrub brush nor a deck wash with bleach in it, so Home Depot it was.  The new brush is good, so is the deck wash.  Jim raised a blister in the palm of his hand from the scrubbing.  My contribution was sitting on a foot stool with a hand brush attacking the bad sections.  It's amazing how fast that infestation came up.

Home Depot has their real Christmas trees out.  A 3-4 foot tree is $30.  We used to pay that much for a 7-8 foot Noble Fir in the previous decade. They're nice trees, the needles are not dropping, they feel good.  Trees in Tucson were just sad from day one.

There was a limited sunset tonight.

The climate could be worse, we could be west of the Cascades.  This was on KOMO yesterday morning.

Other than this paltry offering, I got nothing!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Fog and the Coming Winter

Today is just gruesome!  The PNW is the beneficiary of yet another atmospheric river of water.  On the west side of the Cascades, there is significant flooding.  Spokane is in something of a rain shadow due to the Cascade range, but it's been pretty wet here.  Today we had fog in the morning, and the later in the day it gets, the thicker it gets.  This was taken around 8:30 this morning.

This week we took the bike rack off the jeep.  It has to be lowered to get the lift gate up to put groceries and stuff into the car.  It's not a big thing, but it's pretty clear outdoor riding season is over.  The rack in the garage, so if a miracle occurs and we can ride, it can be reinstalled.  I have to laugh at our new temperature cut off for riding, which is about 52F.

This photo was taken New Year's Eve 2006 when we lived in Bellevue, WA.  That's Jim on the left, and my brother Laurence on the right.  Jim was in recovery from shoving his femur through his acetabulum.  Laurence was recovering from robotic surgery for prostate cancer.  Both were well on their way to renewed vim and vigor.  What we didn't know at the time was that Laurence had early onset Alzheimer's, he died in 2017.  Anyway, the first trail we tried to ride that day was frozen over.  I think it was this trail.  Rather than going home and having hot cocoa, we went to a different trail at a lower altitude and rode there.  It looks pretty dang cold.  Back then we would ride down to 38, but I think those days may be over.

After removing the bike rack, we gathered up the bags of small styrofoam chunks and giant unbagged pieces of styrofoam and loaded them up into the Jeep.  At the rate we were going with stuffing the backlog into the 68 gallon trash container, we had about four more weeks of non-recyclable material hanging around in the garage.  We headed out for the transfer station.  Ordering on line generates cardboard and styrofoam. I was really surprised to see how much cardboard there was in the trash at the transfer station.  Recycling is free, I don't understand why people don't take it to the recycle section.

TDS is still out pulling conduit.  I wonder if they will stop for the winter.

Wednesday was a beautiful, if chilly, day. We put on the warm hiking clothes and walked up the hill behind us.  There are not a lot of trails up there, which is unfortunate, but it's good for a walk when one must leave the house.  There are big rocks up there.

After the walk it was off to Home Depot for fourteen one square foot pavers.  There is dry loose dirt along side of the house, and the neighborhood cats poop there.  Hopefully the pavers will encourage them to go somewhere else.  I am of two minds about cats wandering freely.

In news of the good, Steve Bannon has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of defying a subpoena issued by Congress.  I hope they send the US Marshals after him and take him out in hand cuffs on network news.

We have no date for when they will come out with the shower door.  I'm getting used to the bath tub downstairs, so it's not the end of the world. It's a small bathroom, and it's actually pretty warm in there.

That's it!  That's all I've got.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

It is Always Something

Friday dawned early, very early.  Thursday evening, Jim had decided that he should re-caulk the toilet while the shower enclosure was not there.  The contractors were coming Friday afternoon.  So, we got up at the crack of dawn; he went to the Ace hardware down the street for caulk, and I vacuumed the bathroom floor to remove any remaining pieces of crud from demolition.  That level of preparedness probably jinxed the entire thing.

However, let us first admire the early morning sky.  Is it not lovely?

I do like the sun hitting the yellow leaves.

Here is Jim caulking.  Note the position of his back half.  Doing that toilet with the glass there would have been very difficult.  It's not clear to me why they couldn't have moved it over five or six inches, but they didn't.  That's a head lamp strap around his head, in case you're wondering.

Anyway, the job was not completed.  The fixed side of the enclosure is in.  The door did not fit.  The walls are not completely vertical, there is a difference of 1/16 of an inch, and thus the door could not close.  A new one will have to be fabricated.  It will be at least two weeks.  So, we will continue to shower downstairs in the tub that makes me think I'm going to fall because it is so narrow.

Other than raking leaves and riding the new spin bike (which is exhausting) there is zippity doo dah all to report.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Spin Bike and Glass Block Removal

Welp, the republicans have retaken Virginia.  In addition to that fact is the disturbing trend manifesting in the suburban areas (as opposed to the rural areas) of support moving to the pubtards.  Youngkin ran a smart race, campaigning on keeping the evils of Critical Race Theory out of the K through 12 class rooms.  Never mind the fact that CRT is taught in LAW SCHOOL, the little children needed to be saved from the horrors of the liberal demon spawn.  I guess we're marching towards dictatorship and these dullards who voted against things that aren't real are just happy to get on that bus.  It's an excellent time to be old.

We had about 20 or so kids for Halloween.  The 100 piece bag of candy was more than enough.  I kept the M&Ms, and dumped the rest in the trash.  We can not have that in the house.

Not much has been happening here up until today.  Last week we decided to bite the bullet and buy an indoor exercise bike because it's clear that the season for riding is ending.  Now that I am in my dotage, and totally not acclimated to the cold, 53 appears to be the bottom of my cycling climate range.  Getting that thing in the house was hard.  There's a heavy fly wheel and I swear the rest of it is made out of iron.  We unpacked what we could in the garage and then put it on a moving pad and dragged it down the hall to the staircase to the basement.  Fortunately we had rope on hand, which Jim threaded through the hand holds on the box.  He stayed uphill controlling its speed of descent, and I guided it down the stairs, one riser at a time.  Fortunately the box was small enough to make the turn on the landing.  Assembly was not too awful, so that was good.

The room that seemed infinitely large has now been made smaller by the addition of stuff.  We're done now, we don't need anything else.  So far we've done one 20 minute beginner spin class and it was so hard!  There are a lot of intervals being done on the bike.  It'll be good this winter.

Today, which by the way would have been an excellent riding day (52 degrees at 11:30) we're having the glass block shower enclosure removed.  Why, you wonder.  It leaks and the lack of a door lets the shower stall get very cold.  Neither of these things are good.  It is pretty, and at first we were charmed by its appearance, but then the ugly reality set in.

Here we are, during demo.

It's good that we did this.  The person who did the bathroom did not attach the sill plate to the threshold.  No silicone, no grout, no nothing.  That might have explained some of the leaking.  The arrow (above) is pointing at the sill plate.

That's the piece of tile in the background, Matt (the contractor) is going to put Liquid Nails on the threshold, and then a bunch of silicone.  So, with any luck we will be water tight.  Friday a frame-less glass shower door will be installed.

Here is my homage to fall.

And here is the neighborhood.  Note that the fall color is gone, and the trees are shedding their leaves.

From the department of you can't fix stupid, we have the QAnon people, gathering yesterday in Dallas at Dealey Plaza, convinced that JFKJr would come and greet them.  He would then become the orange one's VP.  How deranged can these people be?  How do they hold jobs?

That's it!  I have covered it all.