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washed fruit and boggled minds. [flawed wednesday]

washed fruit

WRITTEN THE MORNING OF WISCONSIN’S PRIMARY ELECTION DAY – APRIL 7, 2020

“the court’s suggestion that the current situation is not ‘substantially different’ from an ‘ordinary election’ boggles the mind.” (justice ruth bader ginsburg)

i have lived in this state for over three decades now.  i have never been more disappointed or embarrassed.  or angry.

in the middle of washing every single piece of fruit and vegetable that enters this house, in the middle of disinfecting the mail and all packages, in the middle of mask-wearing and social distancing, in the middle of streaming or video-conferencing anything work-related, in the middle of a global pandemic that is eating away at people’s lives and threatens the lives of thousands more (if we could even somewhat accurately predict) this state’s officials  – wisconsin – has the gall, the audacity, the very blatant disregard of human life and human safety to continue to hold its primary election today, putting anyone at risk who goes to the very few open and staffed polls.  other options are confusing for people – drive-throughs, curbside – these make the assumption that voters have transportation and can go to one of the few places there are voting sites.  milwaukee, a city that usually has 180 polls, has 5 open today.  5.  for a population of half a million.  even if 50,000 people vote in those 5 places, that would mean 10,000 people a polling site, and yes – that is slightly higher than the recommended number of people present in one place at one time (10) during this PANDEMIC.  in one of the most self-serving moves of all time (although then we would have to ignore the skewed self-servingness of our previous governor) the republicans of this state (and i call them out because they ARE the ones who voted the postponement down) have decided that the people of wisconsin are dispensable.  with absentee ballots not even in all voters’ mailboxes, no opportunity to absentee vote later than today is being afforded.  the wisconsin populace is disenfranchised and it is despicable.  adding greater insult, the majority of the supreme court of the united states put its indelible signature on this atrocious decision.

i don’t even know what to say.  between the federal government’s response to this pandemic and the inbred infighting, the blatant aggression and ineptitude of the president, the pitting of the country’s states against each other (even reading that makes me nauseous), i feel grossly let down.  yes, justice ginsburg, it boggles my mind.  it undermines everything i thought this country was about.  it’s exhausting.  aren’t we all tired?

and where do we go from here? WISCONSIN, where do we go from here?  how will the coronavirus curve change now?  how will the inability of everyone voting play to the few who voted down the postponement?  don’t we already know?  do the leaders blocking a later date for this primary election really expect people to perilously exercise their fundamental right to vote yet not give a damn that people are putting their very lives at risk?  WHY ARE WE WASHING OUR FRUIT?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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devoid of color. [flawed wednesday]

red and blue america

this morning i am devoid of color.  like many of you, i had a day – for me it was yesterday – that shook me to the core.  in the midst of all the bootstrap-pulling and the sisu-garnering we are mustering, angst pushed its way to the surface.  i stood in front of my piano and it started.  it didn’t stop until i laid my face on the pillow to rest, late last night, and then it woke me in the middle of the night, poking me into the place where you stare into the dark, imploring your mind to stop.  if you were there too, in the middle of angst yesterday, we were in solidarity.

this morning i am devoid of color.  apparently, for the whole of my life, i have not been as brutally aware of the chasms in this country as i am now.  we are not really one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  and the rose-colored glasses that  birthed loyalty have slid off our collective faces.  this country is as divided as they come.  it is as inequitable as they come.  and woefully, it is as shallow as they come.

this morning i am devoid of color.  in the middle of a global pandemic the leaders of this country are failing us.  jousts of economic strategy are thrust into this health-terror; federal taunts of get-it-for-yourself set the stage, the precedent, a hideous example for a people intent on self-servingness.  we see the curtain pulled on what is important to people and we are appalled.

this morning i am devoid of color.  the in-fighting pales in comparison to the cavalier buttressing of parties.  yes.  “red and blue america are not experiencing the same pandemic.”  we can’t have conversation because that would involve honest communicating.  we can’t seek truth because who could then be blamed? we can’t even talk because we are too angrily disparate to talk.  tilting my kitchen chair back on two legs as we read aloud the news i feel the earth tilt under me and i hold onto the table.

we are not on the same page, we of this country.  this pandemic, capable of uniting us in working to flatten the curve of its dread, is further dividing us.  information is warped; information is withheld.  facts – facts! – are play-doh-molded into whatever pushes forth agenda.  there are two distinct camps of thought and nary shall they meet.  this has generated an opportunity, a ploy, for more polarity; we see it, experience it, up close and personal.  and, to add insult to injury, the great divide, the vast difference between those-who-have and those-who-don’t is exposed like a compound fracture.  despite sixty years on this earth, i have never seen it more clearly.  and it is staggering.

this morning i am devoid of color.  fear has drained the color from my face.  i want us, my husband and i, to stay healthy.  i desperately want my beloved children to stay healthy.  i earnestly want my parents-in-law to stay healthy, our siblings, our families, our extended families, our friends.  but the misinformation war has put us in peril.  this insidious virus is sweeping the globe and we are in danger.  that, at its root, should not be a question or a bargaining chip.  it should not be ignored nor should it be conflated to suit agenda.  it should be factual, pragmatic, cautious, proactive, seeking answers, results and healing of lives – indivisible – for all.

so many people in this nation, practicing goodness.  but this nation?  this nation has a choice to make.

this morning i am devoid of color.  i am deeply disappointed.  i am afraid.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the biding of time. [two artists tuesday]

birch in winter

i’m writing this as i listen to the loud interruption of wind machines and a large lawnmower/mulcher behind our yard.  a family with many children (6 or maybe 7) is having their yard spring-cleaned up and it makes me nostalgic for the days we, as kids, as families, cleaned our own yards.

the feel of the rakes in our hands, the smell of leaves, the chill in the air and the anticipation of spring-on-its-way, the promise of hot chocolate.  the quiet.  i can hear the sound of the metal tines of the rake, many bent out of shape, as i attempted to make piles of leaves.  my dad would later clean up my messy attempts but in the meanwhile i knew i was helping.  i was outside and the sounds of birds-early-on-the-wing and rustling squirrels, the wind whispering high in the oaks of our yard, these were the sounds of march.

ahhh, the blowers and the large-engine machine just stopped for a moment and i took a deep breath before they started back up again.

in these days of unsettling and increasing isolation we are challenged to find ways to calm our souls.  recently we took a long walk on the frozen lake up north.  all around us nature was quietly waiting.  gracefully bending in the cold wind, birch trees wait.  grasses, browned from fall and a long winter, sway in pause.  all around us you could feel it; anticipation of what is to come and the quiet biding of time.

in between all the remotely-done work-of-the-day tasks, maybe later today we will take a walk.  we’ll put on our boots and drive to the woods.  we’ll feel our breathing even out as we step from little-baby-scion into a hushed space, a place of waiting.  we’ll likely walk in silence.

there’s so much noise around us these days.  angst and anger, concern and contention, rhetoric and reason, pomposity and push-back.

we have no choice but to wait.  to be respectful of each other, of the time it will take.  to do what we need to do in order to survive as best we can with as few dire repercussions as possible.  to be responsible and proactive.  to do the right thing and honor health and life in the none-too-steady heartbeat of the world.  to wait.  like the birch trees and the grasses on the edge of the lake, bowing to the wind and rising to the sun.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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two broken wrists. and the saga continues. [k.s. friday]

and the saga continues

bananas.  they were $.49 lb.  we picked up a bunch and walked to the register.  a moment later, with no question or drama, we paid our $1.17 and left.

the next step in my two-broken-wrists saga is occupational therapy.  not because we do everything with our hands.  not because we write with them and open doors with them.  not because we use them for our personal hygiene or because we cook with them.  not because we drive with them or dress with them or shake hands with them.  but because using my hands IS what i do.  the therapist asked me how long i have played the piano.  53 years.  it’s what i DO.  so getting my wrists back to pre-snowboard-fall is imperative to me.  there are no other options.

before we went to this first appointment i, responsibly, called our healthcare insurance company – the one we pay $29,000 a year to – the one with the slogan ” for the care you need at a price you can afford” – to check in about the coverage of OT.  i was told, after much menu-choosing, that i am limited to 20 visits and that the cost will be $50 per visit.  with the OT’s recommendation that my getting-these-wrists-back-trajectory would involve appointments twice a week, that would add $400 to the already-$2400/month in healthcare costs.  bracing.  impossible.

the OT office checked in with me to remind me of my appointment, coincidentally, just after i hung up with the insurance company.  i told them what i had just learned and they insisted i was wrong.  “no,” i was told, “we have never heard of molina charging ANYthing for a copay.”  I asked them to please double-check for me and they assured me they would and that they would apprise me at my appointment.

when i arrived, the receptionist checking me in told me that they had their 23-year-insurance-veteran in the office check and that there would be no copay.  i asked them to provide a written document to that effect so that if and when i was billed i would have recourse.  they assured me that they would triple-check and to stop back after my appointment.

at the end of my appointment with the therapist, the receptionist told me that “no, you don’t have to pay $50 per visit.  it’s actually worse.  instead, you have to pay 100% of all fees until your thousands-of-dollars-deductible is met.”  what?!!!!  now this is the third story i am hearing about the same service with the same provider and the same insurance company.  who am i to believe?

i stood there and literally cried in front of the receptionist in the middle of the waiting area.  you mean to tell me that our $29,000 a year doesn’t really cover much of anything???  this is blatantly wrong, grossly outrageous.

bernie sanders, if you have listened to him speak, has given a example of the perverted and pathetic healthcare in this country.  he speaks about a family who makes $60,000 a year and that this family must pay $12,000 for healthcare.  “that’s 20% of their gross income,” he bellows.  what i wish he would add is this next example:  consider a couple who makes say $65,000 a year (this is the magic healthcare cliff for two people and only $5000 more than the previous example).  that couple will pay anywhere between $24,000 and $29,000 for a policy that will still have high deductibles and yet (clearly) not actually have good coverage.  i want to jump on the bernie-bellowing-band-wagon and yell, “that’s 45% of that couple’s income!!!  what is wrong with that???? EVERYTHING!”  how is it that we can live in this country, the richest country in the world, and have the worst healthcare for our populace?  how is it right to set the populace up for financial disaster when they have to deal with the eventual health scare, injury, illness??  (on a side note, i won’t even beGIN to start talking about Covid-19, for i have nothing good to say about the administration’s handling, lack of information or truth, and unpreparedness for this pandemic that will truly test the resiliency of our country.)

when i could take a breath at the receptionist’s desk i asked, “what do these appointments cost?”  how much is my professionalism worth to me, i am thinking.  i earn my living playing the piano, i am thinking.  i have fifteen albums of piano music, i am thinking.  i am a pianist, i am thinking.  i just need care for my wrists so that i can do what i do, i am thinking.  at what cost, i am thinking.

but healthcare is not like bananas.  i was told, “we can’t answer that.  we don’t know.”  i beg your pardon???  “billing handles that.  and it’s different depending upon insurance plans and whether or not you have appropriate insurance.”  i beg your pardon???? “what if i just wanted to pay cash right now?” i ask.  “you can’t,” she says.  “we don’t know what it costs.”

i wonder if it would be more if i paid cash – after all, i’m not an overstuffed insurance company that has the capacity to deny portions of the billing or disallow costs or base payment on the coding used to describe my treatment, while at the same time accepting ridiculously high premiums from clients with the knowledge that the insurance offered is incomprehensibly lacking.

no.  i’m just a person who needs her hands.

we left, went to the store and bought more bananas.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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“anger…” [merely-a-thought monday]

anger

“to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (pete seeger) this – this time – must be the time for anger. it’s bracing.  and it’s everywhere.  i have a hard time validating anger as a choice over a steadfast temperament, especially when it comes to leadership.  i have a hard time watching poisonous blaming where blame does not lie.  i have little to no patience for those who justify their angry words or actions with falsehoods or the power of their position.  i have no respect for those who point vindictively accusatory wagging fingers at people who are doing jobs for which they are qualified and to which they are committed. people are riled up and it’s not getting any better.

“anger is a selling point among many voters as it’s a proxy for passion and strength…” (nicole hemmer) it’s bracing.  if you happen to be among the millions of people who use social media you might find yourself astonished a time or two.  without remorse or regret, posts will wreak havoc on your fact-checking, source-seeking self.  the information posted is mind-boggling.  the anger clearly behind the posts is jaw-droppingly stunning.

but i suppose that’s the point.  in the absence of a calm, informed, articulate, well-meaning leader who is anchored to the core values of our country, not to mention the core values of human-kind, all hell is bound to break loose.  and it has.  our communities, our country, our world – all are observing as anger runs for president.  and now anyone who has been angry has a choice.

do you choose anger?  or are you mistaking that for passion?  do you choose anger?  or are you mistaking that for strength? for they are not the same.  dare to parse out the difference; dare to question the intention.

“to everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season…a time to gain, a time to lose…”  there is much to be lost.  starting with both the humility and pride of a country designed as an experiment of democracy, a melting-pot-welcoming all, a place of peace for its citizens, a land of the free and home of the brave that takes care of its inhabitants, be they women or men, creature or flora.

there is much to gain.  starting with both the humility and pride of a country that can favor inclusive equality and fairness over discrimination, intelligent decision-making over agenda-riddled punting, wholehearted responsibility over retribution-acts, unshakeable virtue over a lack of ethics, reassuring integrity over molten anger.

“to everything there is a season…”

vote

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“we should be wide awake.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we should be wide awake billboard

i sleepily rub the dreams from my eyes.  coffee helps.  and the snowy world outside comes into focus.  no longer immersed in the land of nod, all things rush back:  the casts, the worries, work task lists, bills to pay, the world around us.  before i peruse the news and the weather, though, i mind’s-eye blow my children a kiss and wish them good days, i hug the dog and the cat lying by my side, i thank sweet d for the coffee with the ernie straw.  it all starts.  the day has begun.

this past week has been extraordinary in so many ways; more on that another time.  i’m buoyed by a hopeful spirit, by connecting with people, by sheer love and the sureness-of-foot taking one step at a time, moving forward; the tide is predictable – it ebbs; it flows.  i am wide awake now, thinking.

“we should be wide awake.”  yes.  for all things.  we should have our eyes open.  we should monitor our response to the positive, the negative.  we should be mindful.  just as worry pervades our time, so does hope.  we need lead with kindness.  we need remember we are sharing this good earth with a hard-to-fathom 7.6 billion or so other souls.  we can’t avoid the reality that the narrative we each individually choose must be deliberately and painstakingly vetted with the truth, with awareness, with sensitivity, with fairness.   not sleepily, not uninterested-in-all-but-the-reactionary-anger-dramatics, not without due diligence.  we must guard against the bandwagon of lackadaisical; we must avoid the geared-down rhetoric of hatred.  we are human beings and we have a responsibility.

just as certain as the tide, it is predictable that the two factions in any division will aggressively forward their agendas.  it is up to each of us to stay informed, to discern, to ask questions, to speak up, to make intelligent, educated choices based on civility, impartiality and honesty, equality, democracy and freedom.  no matter the venue, no matter the place of division.

to be wide awake.

woke:  increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“indecency keeps getting rewarded.” [merely-a-thought monday]

indecency

it’s bewildering.

“indecency keeps getting rewarded.”

recently i heard someone say that she was glad her parents weren’t here to see what is happening.  i would have to agree.  my sweet momma and my poppo would be appalled by today’s incessant and prevailing lack of decency.  it’s embarrassing and mind-numbing to witness.  this is not just a simple lack of kindness for others; these are displays of a complete lack of regard for the sanctity of human life, the privilege of living together on this good earth.

i am relieved that my children are grown so that i don’t have to explain to them the ugliness that is pervasive, accepted, even overtly encouraged.  name-calling, lying, undermining, blatant cruelness aimed at others; egregious acts aimed at those less fortunate, elitist prejudices and judgements loaded into automatic weapons spewing vitriol at others, vindictiveness toward people who have a different opinion, who stand up for something different, who live different lives, who are courageous and whose bravery shows up in truth-telling.

we find that this is not just poisoning the outer limits – the circles we don’t belong to, the social or financial ladder-rung we have not reached, the country we belong to but the government by which we are not employed.

no.  this sinister lack of decency has reached its slimy tentacles into our communities, our work, our friends, our families, our homes.  people, who we would not expect, displaying reactionary anger – jousting their epee of mean-spirited words at the unsuspecting, stepping over the boundaries of democratic principles, over the clearly-now-elusive stopgaps of doing-what’s-right, over the limit of how-i-would-want-you-to-talk-to-me-is-how-i-will-talk-to-you or how-i-would-want-you-to-treat-me-is-how-i-will-treat-you.  there is no conversation.  there is righteous indignation, cavalier disrespect, face-down-i’m-not-listening-to-you body language.  there is anger.  there is hate.

and, instead of being struck down by an army of goodness, a wealth of kindness, even a modicum of fairness, this indecency has become normalized and it seems rewarded.  whether outwardly applauding or quietly complicit, the indecency is forwarded on.  and the tentacles of this corrosive nastiness, unchecked, reach both inward and outward into the concentric circles surrounding each of us; the incivility is a contagion and it wins.

it’s more than bewildering.  it sickens me.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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