Monday, March 31, 2014

ObamaCare: 1

I must admit, having heard any number of health insurance cancellation horror stories, I've been a tentative supporter of Obamacare (AKA the Affordable Care Act) since first hearing about it.  The idea that people would no longer be left out in the cold, unable to purchase any form of affordable insurance, intrigued me.  (Me, I'm OK.  I am one of the few with retirement health insurance.  at least for now.)

Now it does more than intrigue me.  It has a near and dear face attached to the abstract arguments.

I have a longtime good friend who's never had health insurance in the 20+ years I've known her.  She is self-employed, in general good health, but with a pre-existing condition or two, and has never been able to afford the premiums for an individual policy.

This past fall, once Obamacare became a reality, she was able to purchase her first worthwhile policy ever.  Once it took effect, her brother prodded her into going in for a screening colonoscopy.

What she thought would be a routine screening turned into a clip-and-snip operation that took well over an hour.  She needs to get repeat scans every three months for the next year.

Thanks to her health insurance, the scans won't bankrupt her.
Thanks to her health insurance, she has a fighting chance.  They told her that if she'd have waited another year to do the screening, it would have been too late to do anything about the growths.

Obamacare has saved her life.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dirt Piles

The weather warmed up, and the foundation contractor showed up as promised.

Fortunately, I was off work last week on vacation, and was able to be around to watch them dig and to answer questions.

It's been quite the process.  They started last Tuesday, and would have finished up today except that the weather turned cold and snowy and the concrete companies wouldn't deliver any mud.  It's exciting, after the long, cold winter, to see progress.  (The last piece that needs to go in is the foundation around the crawl space under the kitchen addition.  The slab for the garage, the rebuilt front steps and the side of the house next to the drive are all finished.)

First, they dug out the trench footing for the garage addition.  It's 18" wide and 3' deep.  If you could get a semi into my back yard, it could safely park on it, I'm sure.  Yes, it's overkill, but it's what was required for me to get my permits, so overkill it is.  At least I'm sure it'll all stay put.

After that, they dug the big hole next to the house for the addition and laid the forms for the footing.  That was fun to watch - though I must admit I jumped back from my vantage point at the back door a time or two when it looked like he was about to drive through the wall.

After all the hoopla I've heard about nightmare inspectors coming by, I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised by that part of the process.  You call, they come by within the next two hours.  As long as you've more-or-less followed the plan (and we have), they sign off on the work, and you're good to go.

It's been a little dusty, a lot muddy.  The contractor showed up at noon, hung-over, the second day of the project, and was obnoxious to work with to boot.  (If I hadn't had such trouble getting someone in here, I'd probably have fired him - how unprofessional!)  Fortunately for him, the guys actually doing the labor were here on time and good to work with.  Also fortunately for him, it was just the one day, and he was fine to work with the rest of the time, or I might have fired him anyhow.

I've had some second thoughts and had to take some deep breaths and go back through my (still good) reasons for buying this house and taking on this mess before my stomach would quiet down.

The framing will start next week.  I like and trust the contractor who'll be doing that part of the project.  He's a rare gem, and I know my stomach will be happier with this next piece.

It's spring!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getting Started

Spring is here and the contractor has returned with the robins.

And just in time.  Friday night, as we were toasting garlic bread in the oven, the handle on the door pulled off.  It made it quite a challenge to finish the bread since the door tried to pull itself in half when we opened it (and there was no way to reattach the handle until the oven was cooled down).  But we persevered and managed to finish cooking without the door completely falling off.  It was close...

I met with the contractor on Wednesday morning.  The job is going to be a challenge for him and his crew.  The drive is narrow, too narrow for any kind of a tandem-axle truck.  The current slope of the backyard goes towards the foundation, which means the grade needs to be changed.  The top of the current foundation is just an inch or two above the dirt, and current code requires at least a six-inch gap between the top of the foundation and the surrounding soil.  But I'm confident he's up to the job.  He's supposed to be here next week to do the digging and pour the concrete.

It's exciting to see progress after the long months of waiting!

Yesterday was 70 and sunny, and Joe and I spent much of the afternoon doing some final prep work.  He took the concrete front steps apart, I removed the rotting trim boards on the garage.  (he muttered something about an imbalance of labor, but I pretended not to hear him.)

I am SO ready for this project to start...

Thursday, March 6, 2014


OK, it's not quite spring yet.

But the robins are back!

When I was a little girl growing up in Minnesota, my mother watched eagerly for their return each spring.  She'd peer out the window searching for signs of them coming north from their winter break in warmer climes, and was always thrilled when she first spotted them.

I picked up her custom somewhere in there.  Come late February (they arrive here in Missouri sooner than they ever got up to Minnesota.  Makes sense if you think about it at all...) I start watching for their arrival.  When I catch my first glimpse of an orange breast, my heart lifts.  I remember my mother's smile and know mine matches hers from so long ago; winter's days are just about over.

Joe and I have been taking regular walks through the park this winter.  Once the weather turned last fall, all the people went home and we've pretty much had the park to ourselves.  I think I'll probably miss the quiet on our walks once the weather turns in another week or two (though the people-watching will greatly improve, so perhaps it won't be so bad).
Last night, it was well after sunset when we were out walking.  As we turned the last corner for home, the branches of the tree we were approaching were silhouetted in the streetlight, and I thought I saw buds on them.  I stopped and pulled one close for a better look, and sure enough the buds are swelling.  Give them just a few warm days and they will be bursting out in their spring song of green.

See, winter only SEEMS like it lasts forever.  Spring comes.