Tony and I visited Granny on Wednesday for her 98th birthday, which was actually Thursday. We didn't go down on the day itself because it was a busier day for Tony workwise.
We had a pretty good visit until it was time for us to leave and have lunch with Dad, and Granny said she wanted to have lunch with us too. She also said she had to pee, and we got a nurse involved, and it was sad and a bit frustrating, because Gran doesn't remember that she can't use the bathroom by herself or even with assistance because she's just too weak.
I was taken aback by Granny's desire to go out with us. When we used to want to take her out for a meal, when she was stronger, she was often reluctant to go, but this time, she was upset about being left behind. I guess I shouldn't have mentioned the lunch with Dad, but she had asked whether Dad would be coming soon, and I said I didn't know but maybe he would come after Tony and I had lunch with him.
Anyway, I had figured I'd ask someone who works there to take a photo of Tony, Granny, and me out in the main area of the nursing home, where she'd been when we arrived and where I'd planned to take her so she could eat her lunch. But because we left in a bit of a hurry, so the nurse could tend to Granny and so we wouldn't keep Dad waiting any longer than we already had, I have no photo of Granny from this visit.
The other day, I came across this nj.com article about the best diners in each county in the state. The runner-up for Cumberland County is in Vineland, so I thought about suggesting we go there for lunch. (Tony planned to have only coffee, so it didn't matter whether we went to a place that was gluten-free-friendly.) But I ended up choosing the Black Olive diner instead, because it has almost the same name as the place in Hopewell where we've eaten so many times on South Jersey visits.
I ordered a steak stromboli:
That monster should have been eaten by two people—or someone twice my size. But, with Tony and Dad looking on in dismay, I ate the whole thing except for the last inch or so on each end, which contained no filling. *big ol' burp*
Here's a photo Tony took of Dad and me before I started showing the stromboli who was boss:
When we got home, I took a nap on the couch that lasted for about 2 hours and would have gone on even longer if Tony hadn't come out of his office to start working on dinner.
A week ago Wednesday, I visited my friend Dan up in Franklin Township. Dan and his husband, Ed, have four Pembroke Welsh corgis, and I got to meet them for the first time that day.
Here are Paddy, who's closer to me, and Darth:
And here, left to right, are Cindy Lou, Paddy, and Darth:
I wish I had taken a photo of the fourth corgi, Ashley, who's 15. Dan said she was named after Ed's dressage coach, since both Ashleys are from Toronto. This Ashley is queen of the house despite her lack of mobility. She reminded me of my Emme, who was the alpha dog with both Cody and Rudy. And me. 😆
Paddy is a big bruiser who wasn't expected to live as a pup but who thrived after being bottle-fed by his breeders. He was the most outgoing toward me and so got the most pets.
Cindy Lou is a little baby doll who had a career as a show dog before she came into D&E's lives.
Darth reminded me of my sweet boy Cody. Dan said he was named after Darth Vader because he was solid black when he was born and he used to make heavy breathing noises. 😀 Darth and Cindy Lou weren't littermates, but they were both nursed by the same bitch, because Darth had many siblings and Cindy Lou had only one, so CL's mother had milk to spare.
Dan and I had very good pizza and garlic bread for lunch at Duke's:
We saw foxes in our backyard about the middle of last month. I didn't get any photos of them. I was beginning to think they must have left the neighborhood, but Tony said he saw them again yesterday morning.
On Sunday, we saw four bluebirds from our sunroom. I took some photos through the glass, but I didn't come up with one that's worth posting.
Tony and I are now on Obamacare, and we are not happy about that. If neither of us gets a full-time job that includes health insurance in the next 11 months (and the law isn't repealed), we'll pay almost $11,000 in premiums for, most likely, not a goddamn thing in return. Well, I think our insurance company has to pay for annual physicals for each of us, but they're increasingly seen as pointless.
I had a back-and-forth about Obamacare with an administrator of a group on Facebook that's trying to unseat U.S. Representative Leonard Lance, a Republican who was just re-elected in November. That's a good goal, but I'm leery of this group and others like it with worthwhile, anti-Republican objectives simply becoming cheerleaders for Democrats and their policies, no matter how unworthy they might be. Here's the admin's initial post, the first paragraph of which really got my goat:
I will never understand why anyone was against the #ACA, but here is some info for those that hate it so much! This is for those of you who thought that Obamacare and the ACA were two separate bills.
Last night as his first order of business the new president signed an executive order to repeal the ACA. Here's what this means... even if you are safely covered behind employer-provided insurance, the protections set forth in the ACA (Affordable Care Act), apply to you too. And if those protections are repealed along with the rest (or any part) of the program, you will also be affected.
That means you may be trapped in a job, because your pre-existing condition may mean you will not qualify for new insurance offered by another employer, and the cost of private insurance would be prohibitive. If your employer shuts down, lays you off, or even changes insurers, well, you are out of luck. The Senate GOP voted this week that they would not require an eventual ACA replacement to protect against discrimination for pre-existing conditions, which was the standard before the ACA.
It means that you (a young adult under the age of 26) or your adult children (over 18) may find yourselves without the protection of insurance, as the Senate GOP voted last night that an eventual ACA replacement will not be required to allow young people to remain on their parents' insurance up to the age of 26.
It means that if you have a high-risk pregnancy, or life-threatening illness such as cancer, you may not be able to afford all the care you need, because you may hit lifetime or annual caps. If you have an infant born with any kind of severe medical condition, or premature, they may hit their lifetime insurance cap before they are old enough to walk. The Senate GOP voted last night that an eventual ACA replacement program would not be required to prohibit lifetime insurance caps.
It means that if you are a struggling parent who is uninsured or under-insured, you will no longer be able to count on at least your kids getting the routine medical and dental care they need under the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). The Senate GOP voted that CHIP is not required to be protected by an eventual ACA replacement.
These provisions of the ACA affect everyone in this country, not just those without insurance through their employers.
If you are not okay with these changes, call your representatives and let them know what's important to you. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but our legislators have shown us a map of what they plan to do if constituents don't make their voices heard loud and clear.
Hold down here to copy, paste, and post (do not share) on your timeline, if you feel this information needs to be passed on.
I replied with this:
My husband and I have an Obamacare silver policy. It costs almost $900 a month in premiums. We each have a $3,000 deductible, and there's also a so-called family deductible, which my husband, who has a Ph.D. in economics, can't figure out the specifics of. The bottom line is, we're expected to shell out $10,800 a year to a for-profit health insurance company and, on top of that, if we don't also spend out of our own pockets more money than we would reasonably expect to incur in expenses for actual medical "care" in a given year, we won't get a nickel of reimbursement. And if we don't buy this policy, the IRS will penalize us. And, of course, our insurance company will probably do what they've all been doing lately and deciding that, say, the $250 we incurred for a particular treatment was too much and so only $150 will be applied to our deductible. Does this seem "affordable" or even reasonable to all of you? It sure doesn't to us.
She replied with this:
And this is part of the ACA that needs to be fixed. There are many parts that need to stay. The proposals the republicans have put forward are worse at least for anyone with ore-existing conditions who would be put into a high risk pool with insufficient funding. They also include a health care saving plan where you would need to save money to pay for your own healthcare. That might be ok if you don't have a major illness, like cancer, or if you have years to save money in these accounts, but this money would also take away from what you could save for your children's college or your retirement. And those who are near retirement age have very little chance to save enough money to be able to afford future medical expenses.
So is ACA perfect.. no. It needs to be fixed, not destroyed.
And I replied with this, which, mercifully, is the last part of the back-and-forth, because 1) it meant I got to have the last word 😀 and 2) I know how very tedious Facebook arguments can be:
At the top of this post, you acted like only misinformed people could possibly be opposed to the ACA. I'm willing to bet those most adamantly in favor of Obamacare have either an employer-sponsored plan or a highly subsidized Obamacare plan. I have no gripe with the latter people, but I don't need partisan Democrats who aren't on Obamacare suggesting you have to be a stupid hater to be opposed to the previous president's main "achievement." The ACA was made law only by Democrats even though Obama tried like hell to get some "moderate" Republicans on board. And some should have come on board. After all, it was basically Romneycare: force people to buy insurance from your corporate cronies and call it an "individual mandate." But the Republicans still all said no. Obama could have given us something better, because both the House and the Senate were controlled by Dems. But he sold us out to the corporate interests and had his bill written by a lobbyist from WellPoint. And the Dems' chosen successor to Obama trashed the idea of Medicare for all, called it pie in the sky. The Republicans are evil, but the Dems are every bit as corporate-owned. I have no hope they'll show even the least bit of desire to fix the law anytime soon.
Hillary Clinton was going to double down on Obamacare, and she and her surrogates, including her daughter, Chelsea, used scare tactics to falsely discredit Bernie Sanders's Medicare-for-all proposal.
One reason why we can't have nice things—like health insurance care as an undeniable right—is because so many partisan Democratic voters like to play the "let's be reasonable" game and are careful not to demand nice things, lest they look too socialist or needy or liberal or out of touch with the way things really work in Washington. The other, bigger reason is that Democratic politicians straight up don't want to give them to us. They like to pretend they're so damned determined to give them to us, but then they always find some way to ensure they just can't, because one or a handful of designated Democratic rotating villains joined with Republicans to stand in the way.
I realize that with the Republicans in charge of everything in Washington—and in many states, too—my anti-Democratic shtick is going to get really old, really fast with those remaining partisan-Democrat friends who haven't already unfollowed or unfriended me on Facebook. But I want to make two more points before I return to less divisive and more fun issues in this post: 1) I've been posting my share of anti-Trump stuff on Facebook, too, and I'm sure I'll start railing against this administration and its Republican toadies in Congress here as well (though I've mostly been sticking to feel-good posts about what me and the Tonester have been up to) and 2) counting on Democrats to take back this country from right-wing, corporate extremists is tantamount to believing in fairy tales. Because Democrats have proven to be so feckless when it comes to standing up to Republicans. (And if you need me to provide some links demonstrating that point, allow me to instead urge you to stand up with your arms stretched over your head and push off that rock you've obviously been living under.) And because Democrats have so often fought for and implemented right-wing, corporatist policies themselves.
In that vein, on Monday, I posted on Facebook a link to this clip of Bill Clinton receiving boisterous applause for the anti-Mexican-immigrant section of his 1995 State of the Union address. (Here's a link to a transcript of that speech.) A friend correctly pointed out that Clinton didn't actually mention building a wall, as the headline for the video implied he had. "Right," I replied. "He didn't mention that word. But he'd been building tall 'fences.'" And I added a link to this story from Jacobin about the anti-immigrant policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Then I wrote: "My point, of course, is that while partisan Democrats are right to get enraged when Republicans do effed-up things, they should also get equally outraged when Democrats do the same kinds of effed-up things. See also my previous post about Obama granting himself the right to kill whoever he wants—including U.S. citizens, including children—based only on the CIA's 'intelligence,' with no due process, no trial, no evidence other than the CIA said they were worthy targets. That horrific, un-Constitutional grab of power has now accrued to Trump to do with what he wishes." And here's the story that was in that "previous post" on Facebook I alluded to: a piece from The Intercept by Glenn Greenwald with the headline "Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister."
I got a few reactions to the Bill Clinton video clip post and some more comments, including from a college friend who wrote: "While this is an interesting flashback, times are very very different now than they were. Neither side is perfect, but it feels significantly different now, especially in the quantity and scope of all of the executive orders, wall-related, immigrant-related or not."
Here's my reply, with a couple instances of ALL CAPS to express extra outrage:
For years on end, we've been bombing the shit out of the countries where Trump has been blocking immigration for a few days and yet so very few Democrats have ever spoken out against that. I find it ridiculous that Chuck Schumer is crying for the television cameras over the difficulties of people returning to this country, but he has had zero problem with murdering those same groups of people with missiles fired by remote-controlled flying robots. Democrats still want to pretend Obama was a man of peace and integrity. And I fear that whenever we next have another Democratic president—or a president from a different not-as-far-to-the-right-as-the-Republicans party—the people who voted for her/him will go right back to sleep like they did during the Obama years, safe in the knowledge that at least Trump is no longer president. Just like they did when W. was no longer president. If I see one more Democrat on here urge me to give money to the ACLU, I'm gonna puke. I've supported the ACLU for years, because we've ALWAYS needed that organization's protection from the worst actions of government. Obama was the worst president ever when it came to destroying the lives of whistleblowers. And he was the worst president ever in terms of DEPORTING IMMIGRANTS. But only now that it's a Republican piece of shit fucking around with immigrants is everyone waking up to their plight. The hypocrisy is staggering. I'll help you fight Trump, but I think it's fair to want some recognition that the Democrats are no heroes when it comes to immigration and a whole lot of other issues they'll all of a sudden be discovering only because it will be Trump carrying out the evilness.
And I did get a couple likes for that, including from the college friend I was replying to.
Happily, I'm seeing signs that a few of my friends who were fans of Hillary Clinton are waking up to the reality that comfortable, conformist Democratic politicians who aren't willing to stand up to Big Pharma—even in a purely symbolic vote!—sure AF aren't going to be leading an anti-fascist revolution. One friend signed a petition urging Sanders to create a new party, and a mutual friend of ours—who unfriended me on Facebook not long after the big election, I imagine because she was sick of my pro-Green, anti-Democratic rhetoric—wrote that she had signed the petition, too, and would consider changing parties. Maybe now she'll also consider refriending me.
Tony has been cooking some wonderful meals lately, including two variations on Corn Chowder and some wonderful pilafs. Last night's dinner was a Georgian (the country, not the state) chicken dish with walnuts that was loaded with garlic (which regular readers of Hawleyblog know is a very good thing) and seasoned with cilantro, paprika, coriander, fenugreek, and cinnamon. Tony served it over gluten-free egg noodles:
I contributed a salad with slices of watermelon radish and a lime-dill dressing. To drink, we had another one of the Loire reds we're still on a kick for. This one was the 2014 Domaine Fabrice Gasnier Les Graves Chinon. Tony was hoping to pick up a Georgian wine at Central the other day, but they didn't have any.
The recipe for the chicken came from Saveur. Tony made a few alterations, some purposeful and some not. The sauce wasn't puréed as smoothly as he would have liked. He decreased the amounts of cilantro and onion, fearing they would overpower the other ingredients. And he used a couple of small fish peppers from the plants that are still thriving—along with some Jimmy Nardello pepper plants—in the sunroom.
The walnut sauce was so creamy, without coconut cream or any other type of alternative dairy; the two egg yolks really served their purpose.
I've been playing Rayman Adventures on my iPhone just about every day since I bought it during the week before Super Mario Run dropped. I bought SMR, too, on launch day, but I stopped playing it after the initial novelty of having a Mario game on my phone wore off. I'm sure I'll get back to it at some point. Probably after my RA mania wanes.
Rayman Adventures has wonderfully designed levels that require you to find Teensies, collect Lums, beat up lots of enemies, or reach the end as fast as possible. It's a gorgeous game with a great sense of humor. I'm having as much fun with it as I did with Rayman Legends for the PlayStation Vita, and it cost me only $4.99 for the "starter pack."
I paid $9.99 so I could unlock all of the worlds in SMR—a step only a small percentage of those who've downloaded the game so far have been willing to take. The levels are enjoyable, and it's going to be quite the challenge to collect all three sets of five special coins in each stage of the World Tour. But even though I had fun playing against others in the Toad Rally, the stupid ticketing system killed a lot of my joy in that aspect of the game. And I don't really give a shit about building and decorating my kingdom, so I don't feel like I've gotten much of value for my money.