I’m Speechless!

Okay, not really.  But I am a Versatile Blogger!!  Woo hoo!  I think I have 18 posts total and someone likes me well enough to give me this fantabulous award!  Thanks Dana!

When I started this blog I didn’t have any dreams of making it big in the blogosphere, just the opposite.  I wanted (and still want) to remain as anonymous as possible.  How else can I rant about my family and not piss them off?  But I have to say it’s nice to be liked.  And to be followed, in a non-creepy internet stalkerish sort of way. 

I was nominated by Dana the Biped, of Five Legs Between Us.  I love keeping up with Dana and Prada!  I laugh, I learn and I keep going back for more.  She makes my heart happy, especially her efforts in finding homes for homeless 3-legged doggies!  I’d take them all if I could!  This particular post had me almost snorting chocolate cake and was the reason I started stal…uh following Dana:  Defensive Karaoke, Part One

So here’s the deal with this award:  I’m supposed to (a) nominate 15 bloggers; (b) inform them of the nomination; (c) share 7 random things about myself; (d) thank the blogger who nominated me; and (e) add the Versatile Blogger logo to my post.  Alrighty then, fasten your seat belts – here we go!

I follow a whole bunch of blogs regularly but unfortunately several of them have already been nominated and the others are – as Brian Christensen mentioned in his Versatile Blogger post – “hugely popular”.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!  It just seems unlikely that they’d even notice if I nominated them.  Ahem, and the nominations are, in no particular order:

1.  Grammy, of gram-cracker.com.  Grammy posts yummy recipes; amusing and helpful tips for dealing with various aspects of life; and beautiful photos of her new grandbaby Avery!  She pulls no punches and tells it like it is.  Go Grammy!  (She was also my very first follower!)

2.  Jo, of The Bright Yellow Balloon.  Jo makes me smile and think with her posts.  Self-described as the Queen of Random, Jo knows how to put words together to great effect.  She shares her fears and frustrations as well as her triumphs.  I look forward to seeing new posts from her in my feed! 

3.  Gia, of Mayor Gia.  Gia does double duty as the Mayor and Sheriff of her own Crazy Town.  Be prepared for a wild ride when you visit her.  Using words and artwork, she’s entertaining and usually upbeat.  The only downside is she makes me feel old … but then I am old, so that’s not entirely her fault! 😀

4.  Pamela Hart of Harts Beat.  I’ve just started reading Pamela’s blog so I’m not as familiar with her as I am with my other nominees.  I like what I’ve read so far – her interaction with and stories about her family are lively and fun which always makes me smile.  I’m looking forward to reading back through her posts and getting to know her a little better.

There you have them!  And now, 7 random things about Moi:

1.  I started writing when I was a child, making up stories for my brother about our kitchen appliances coming to life at night.  (Technically I wasn’t writing, they never got put on paper but the principle was the same, right?  Right?)

2.  I have written poetry for years but lost most of it when my computer fried! 😦  That’ll teach me to backup my hard drives!

3.  I’m not a fan of chocolate – unless it’s dark, preferably with nuts.

4.  If memory serves, I have exactly two college classes under my belt (maybe three, I really can’t remember, and I wasn’t even drinking back then so shut up!).

5.  My career as a legal secretary began 20-something years ago completely by accident.

6.  One of my favorite nicknames is “Lawrence” given to me by my good friends Gary & Kim when they were my pastors.  Don’t ask, I never really understood it either but I can still hear them saying it and it makes me smile. 

7.  I own a smart phone but it’s been lobotomized – it only does phone calls and text messages because the rest of that stuff costs way too much on my limited budget!  Interpretation:  “No Twitter for YOU!”

And although I’ve already said thank you I’ll reiterate – THANKS DANA!  So glad you enjoy my musing/ranting/carrying on!  Everyone go check her out…um no, her BLOG, check out her BLOG.  (Man, I did that while commenting on Pamela’s blog too.  I think I need some time off, and not for more doctor appointments.  Sigh.)

 Lastly – here it is!  Purty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now I’m off to bear witness to my nominees! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!  Let’s be safe out there!

Welcome back!

Today’s title is based on the presumption that everyone’s back hard at work!  Or at least you’ve showed up, right?  🙂

I added a new link to my blogroll.  Randy’s post on December 19 was phenomenal.  It made it okay to have the Christmas blues.  It even orchestrated the soundtrack for a blue Christmas season.  And for a weird Christmas season.  I know it’s post-Christmas but if you’ve ever felt like not celebrating – or know someone who might have felt that way – you may find the post helpful. 

I’ve received Randy’s weekly newsletter This is True for over a decade.  Some of that time I paid for the premium version, it isn’t that much money.  When the economy dumped on us I had to let that go, but I still read the free version every week.  It makes me smile (usually) and go “hmm” (always).

I hope you’ll check him out.  And have a fabulous week!

Subpoena – Part Deux

Disclaimer:  Much of this narrative is based on hearsay and family lore.  Some facts are interspersed – just for fun see if you can tell the difference.  (All this family drama and brain games too!  I’m such a giver!)

Long, long, LONG story short (or shorter anyway):

When I was but a wee toddler my mother had a second baby “out of wedlock” as they said back in those days.  Being a divorcée with only a high school education she was already struggling to raise me so she gave up the baby for adoption.  I didn’t learn about this phantom sibling until I was in my 30s and only then by a fluke, which led me to believe I had a half-sister somewhere.

A few years ago I received a call from Bob, an investigator for the Sheriff’s Department who was looking for Mom.  When I explained she was deceased he proceeded to tell me a long involved story.  Since I’m trying to make this as short as possible I’ll touch on the highlights only:  

  • Adopted sibling turned out to be a brother (John)
  • Brother and wife move in with brother’s adoptive mother; tenant rents guest house on property (1983 or 84-ish)
  • John, wife and guest house tenant disappear (early 1985)
  • Tenant shows up on east coast trying to sell brother’s truck; disappears again before police can question him
  • Brother’s adoptive mother sells house; later passes away
  • A subsequent homeowner excavates for pool, finds bags of bones (1994)
  • Bones can’t be identified and are stored
  • Guest house tenant arrested for kidnapping (2008)

Phew!  It was Bob’s job to obtain confirmation those bones belonged to my brother so they could charge the tenant/kidnapper with his murder.  They knew the bones were from a man and since John had disappeared nine years earlier it seemed logical they were his.  His adoptive mother having already passed, the investigation was starting from scratch and they had to unseal the adoption records to find his biological mother in the hope of getting some mitochondrial DNA to test the bones against.  Hence Bob’s call to me looking for our mother. 

Upon learning that Mom was deceased Bob asked if I’d be willing to provide a DNA sample since we shared the same mother.  Well sure, why not?  He contacted our local Sheriff’s office and one of their deputies came to my house, took a swab and shipped it out. 

Some time later (weeks or months, who can remember?) Bob called back.  The DNA in the bones was so deteriorated it was proving difficult to get a match.  Could I put him in touch with my other brothers and my sister?  (We all have the same mom, different dads – hey Mom was no slouch in the marriage department, five I know of – count ‘em!)  Having multiple samples would help in some way I didn’t really understand and the explanation gave me a headache. 

With additional DNA and the use of a lab at the Department of Defense (no lie!) they were finally able to definitely confirm the bones were my brother’s.  The deputy DA told me I was the best match biologically and I had heard earlier that the match was so close it was entirely possible that we shared the same father.  No way to prove that at this late date, but I found it an interesting footnote to what I thought I knew about my family. 

The brothers, sister and I learned of the positive identification earlier this year and agreed among ourselves that we wanted to follow the trial when it happened.  There didn’t seem to be any further need for our involvement.  Um, yeah.  Enter the subpoena. 

In order to establish the identity of the bones (and how they were identified) for the court, they need me to testify – about being contacted, giving the sample, identifying my mother on the record, etc.  This will be the preliminary hearing and I guess it’s pretty important as it will be a deciding factor in whether this actually gets to the trial stage.  I’m not a fan of California but heck it’s in January and it’s really, really wet & cold where I live this time of year!

Can we say  R – O – A – D   T – R – I – P ?!

To the sunshine!!!

So. Not. Cool.

Santa, I think we’ve got our wires crossed.  Maybe somewhere along the way my message was corrupted.  Or perhaps you aren’t really listening (just like a man)!

I asked for a Kindle.  K – I – N – D – L – E.  It’s an eReader Santa.  It stores books electronically and then displays them a page at a time for reading.  You can even order it online and avoid the whole figuring out where to park the sleigh in a mobile home park.  Simple, yes?  Apparently not.

Wasn’t I a good girl this year?  Didn’t I act all happy and thankful over Thanksgiving even though Hubs and I had a knockdown blowout of a fight before heading up to join his family?  (Sure, I broke the coffee pot, but heck, it was my coffee pot.  I didn’t ask you to replace it did I?  I took full responsibility.)  And haven’t I usually been on my best behavior even when Hubs is in one his many deep blue funks? 

I didn’t think I was asking for all that much Santa.  So what’s up with this?

When I got up this morning Hubs had been out to pick up the mail since his mom said she’d sent us a Hanukah card.  Along with a card from the oldest daughter’s family and one from my brother was an envelope from the Homicide Bureau of the Sheriff’s Department.  I wasn’t really surprised to see it since I was contacted by an investigator from the Sheriff’s Department in Southern California a few years back and I figured it was from him.  Not so dear reader, not so. 

I pulled out the document inside and read:

SUBPOENA FOR APPEARANCE OF WITNESS

 WTF?!?!?!

More to come…

Kindle-Free

Everyone seems to have a Kindle.  Seriously, everywhere I look these days I see someone reading a Kindle (yeah, yeah – I know they’re not all Kindles).  On my commute.  Both of the secretaries I share space with at the office.  A manager in our credit department.  Am I the only person on the planet who doesn’t carry one?  Alright, that was a bit over the top.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.  There’s probably a dozen of us. 

My commute used to be more than 2 hours each way.  I did a LOT of reading.  Fortunately, I wasn’t driving at the time.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t multi-task when reading.  For example: it’s hard to hold a book and knit a scarf (or anything else).  Then I discovered Overdrive at my public library!  My life was transformed!  I kid you not.  I started small – a paperback here and there uploaded onto my MP3 player by way of my PC.  I could listen to my book and knit that scarf!  So awesome! 

Soon I was downloading tons of tomes of all different genres.  I learned that once the book was on my player it would remain active even if the library’s expiration date passed (after that date passed though the file on my PC could no longer be uploaded onto my player).  That way I could have six or eight or ten books in the space of a pack of gum and they were ready to “read” whenever I was. 

Following a recent move my commute time is just about an hour now and I’ve gone back to carrying books.  I LIKE books.  I like to feel them in my hand; like to turn the pages; like to sit and ponder over a phrase or laugh out loud when appropriate, and then easily find where I left off.  Finding my place in the audio books wasn’t always easy.  Plus, when I have audio books on my player they get jumbled up and played along with my music.  This leads to disappointment and confusion.  I’ll be listening to Pink’s So What, dancing in my seat on the train and the next thing I hear is “Chapter five….” 

So I’m back to carrying books.  It means taking time to winnow my book list to only those choices I can find in paper.  Either that or plan multiple visits to the chiropractor. 

Maybe I’ll find a Kindle in my stocking!  How ’bout it Santa?  I’ve been a really good girl!

Gee, I Miss Group Health

When I was first employed with MegaLaw almost 13 years ago I chose Premera as my health insurer – probably because my contribution toward the premium was the lowest one offered.  One year and a whole lotta out-of-pocket payments later we opted to go with Group Health.  What a relief!  Need to see a doctor?  Fork over a reasonable co-pay and everything else is covered except prescriptions; and the co-pays for those were even reasonably priced.  The only downside is you had to use their pharmacy the same way you had to choose from their doctors.  Hubs and I had some disappointing experiences with a couple of the doctors but not Group Health overall. 

I had surgery on my knee and paid the same co-pay I would for an office visit.  If the doctor wanted an x-ray he gave you a slip and you toddled off to the x-ray department where they took good care of you.  Hubs’ weekend in the hospital awhile back was covered in full. 

Unfortunately when the original firm I began working for merged to become MegaLaw there were only a few employees in our office still enrolled in Group Health.  To “use the firm’s resources more efficiently” we were dragged kicking and screaming back into the world of Premera about three years ago. 

Now I need more treatment on my knee.  Not surgery thank goodness, but the ortho I consulted recommended a wonder drug which should help buy me some time before I need a knee replacement.  My deductible is paid up for the year so I wanted to get in and have this injection (ugh) before the end of the year.  Seemed easy enough, the doc’s office called to be sure the wonder drug was covered – it was; and they confirmed since my deductible was met I’d be covered at 80%.  Woo hoo!  They called me to say they had scheduled me an appointment for January 4.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Go ahead think about it, I’ll wait.

tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock

Yep, January 4 – 4 whole days after my deductible resets to zero.  So the whole shebang will have to come out of my pocket.  Well, I have an FSA for next year, so I could count on getting reimbursed for it eventually.  How much could it be? 

After picking myself up off the floor and drying my tears I called Premera, who called the doctor – three times while I stayed on hold.  It still comes down to me shelling out $1200 for the drug alone.  Add to that the doctor’s fee and the cost for another type of injection for the bursitis in my hip and you can see why I was on the floor weeping and gnashing my teeth.  If I can get in before the end of the year my responsibility drops considerably but of course at this late date it’s unlikely.  Even a cancellation may not be helpful as I work in a downtown area to which I commute by train.  Trains only run in the morning and the afternoon so I’m stuck in town unless Hubs comes to pick me up. 

All this heartache over scheduling could easily have been avoided if I was still with Group Health.  Need a wonder drug injection?  Here’s your referral, see the man and Happy Holidays! 

Sigh.

Guilt. Or not.

I have no idea what to post today.  I started working on a post about guilt but that bummed me out. 

Tangent alert:  I’m feeling like ca-ca (as my daughter so eloquently put it) and I just want to go back to bed.  On the up side, if I’m really sick I can skip the family dinner on Saturday!  Woo hoo!  Go congestion, go sinusitis!  Wait, what?  Am I seriously hoping for illness?  Not really.  I guess.  But avoiding dinner at a restaurant I can’t afford sounds excellent about now.  End Tangent.

It occurred to me that since this blog is mainly about venting the stuff I would unload on a therapist, the post about guilt shouldn’t bum me out but should be healing, shouldn’t it?  But I still can’t finish it now.  Also, the point of the blog is that it’s mine.  I get to write what I want, when I want, and it doesn’t even matter to me if anyone reads it.  That said, it is nice to know some folks out there are reading and can relate to even a little of what I’ve been through.  And since this is for my benefit, I’m NOT writing about guilt now.  Later maybe.  In a week or five.  Or twenty.

P.S. There’s a cool post on wordpress’s Freshly Pressed page called 10,000 Santas Go into a Bar.  Worth a read if you have the time:  10,000 Santas