Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Been busy lately, forgot to post.  Bill is now home again from his month-long sun-soak in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Extremely happy to see him, we missed each other hugely.

But in the interests of maintaining some documentation about my meandering internal world (if for no-one other than myself), here goes.

First, some links that caught my interest in the last week or so:

And now a few stories/links to organizations that may explain the incredible sense of community that makes Juneau so special to me :

Tonight we have a dilemma. It’s the First Friday Art Walk (see above link) which in December each year is huge. It’s also Family Fun night at Harborview Elementary School where one grandson goes, and we have tickets to see Leading Ladies at Perseverance Theatre. Tomorrow we eat a 5-course Cuban dinner at the Canvas at REACH as a fundraiser for studio scholarships, Sunday it’s A Wonderful Life put on by Perseverance in the new (and lovely) Thunder Mountain High School theatre/auditorium. Other tickets on our desk are for Dracula (Perseverance students, including a grandson) on the 12th, The Nutcracker (Juneau Dance Unlimited) on the 13th, and The Gift of the Magi/Last Leaf (Opera to Go) on the 18th. And the best part of all of this: the admission fees are low, the performances are high quality, and we can walk to most of them…….


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I ran across a story that finally hit the Internet news only this morning though it was first published 2 months ago (at least as far as I can find.)  The gist of it is that  70% of the nation’s young people 17-24 are ineligible to enlist in the armed forces because of inadequate education, criminal records or being physically unfit – ie obese.  While issues of early childhood education and poverty obviously matter, what struck me about this as well as the debate on health care is the lack of discussion about the food industry and agribusinesses’ role in destroying the nation’s health – purely out of greed. Then last night I watched Frontline’s documentary on the Medicated Child. It’ll make you cry to see little kids on as many as 8 behavior-controlling drugs, with devastating long-term impacts on their lives and health.

We live in a money-driven society.  The role of corporate greed in climate change, war, and ill health comes ever more into focus.  Follow the money. Where are the profits?  They’re in the arms industry, the food industry, the drug industry, the insurance industry.  Until the collective we faces up to and deals with this elephant in the living room, we’re putting a death wish on this country, and most likely on our species.

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Short on my own thoughts and behind on posts, so instead here are Audrey Hepburn’s words to ponder in old age – and more immediately, light up the darkness that’s beginning to shorten our days:

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness..  For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.  For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.  As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”

It came to me via a friend. Nice bit of viral health. Thanks Barb!

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Last spring the flowing sap triggered a desire in me to do something about our small and raggedy yard. Ideas floundered all over the map before settling on building a deck. Our lot is long and narrow, as is the house.  A short driveway shares the front with a square of open grass. (Next spring, a raised vegetable garden?) The backyard is a jungle under two giant spruce trees. A string of smaller trees and shrubs (two look like the rowans of my youth) provide some privacy from neighbors to the rear.

We were lucky to have stashed away the wherewithal to undertake a significant project, and lucky to be led to John Staub (double-bass player par excellence) as our contractor – though we had to wait a few months ’til he was free. We used the time to order and have shipped up on the barge a sliding-glass access door (6 weeks)  and hot tub (4 weeks.) And we found Patrick at the Glory Hole who labored  to make a gravel walkway along one side of the house, thus providing necessary access to the back.

Since Labor Day John has knocked out the wall from our bedroom to the back yard and  installed the access door with adjacent window (for night-time air)  Next he built a sunken pad for the hot tub and around it a roomy deck. Then 4-5 steps down from the deck on each side, and now he’s building a ten-step stairway up to the yard of our dear ones next door.  The tub was delivered a week ago, requiring a day’s work by an electrician to do magic so the thing actually works. Then we needed professional help from the tub distributor (Lyle’s Home Furnishing) to overcome our intimidation at the knobs and chemicals that came with it. Turned out to be much simpler than it appeared from reading package directions and owner’s manuals.  I think.

Last night, once dark arrived (around 8pm) Bill and I geared ourselves up and, swathed in towel, prepared to open the sliding door and sally forth for the tub’s baptismal sit. Well doggone it, there’s a frigging bear on the deck, sniffing around the tub. Next it ambled across to the (by now tightly locked) glass door to see what was up.  Thankfully the animal was fairly small but still big enough to worry about.  There have been  a few in the neighborhood lately, and one walked behind the deck last week while John was at work. Maybe the same one.  If it has become a “garbage bear” and habituated to finding urban leftovers, it may have a short life.  Decided to notify the authorities, and sent an email to the Juneau Police Department “Ask the Dispatcher” to find out who has the thankless task of removing bears and trying to get them back into the wild out the road.

Meanwhile, it’s Sunday morning and I have a hot cup of coffee in hand. Think I’ll go sit in the tub, look up through the trees, and listen to the birds.  Yesterday, aside from many robins, our back yard hosted a varied thrush, a grey-cheeked thrush, a bunch of juncos, and a pair of song sparrow.  Until now, I didn’t even know they were there.

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Saturday, I joined two other Audubon members to make the trip out the road to its end at Echo Cove (39 miles) and spent a beach_cleanupcouple of hours retrieving human detritus from the rocky shore of that isolated spot. We were among the many who participated in the annual International Coastal Clean Up around the globe. Among items found: one tire, one car fender, one outboard motor, a few rusty shipwreck parts, countless beer cans and cigarette wrappers, a couple of bits of fishing line and, thankfully, no dead or entrapped wildlife.

Later, my neighbor son came by for a  moment to raid our refrigerator for lemon juice (he was making a fig tart) and grabbed a mouthful of cornbread left on the counter from the previous night’s supper. It reminded us how much our family loved those Thomas Corn Toast R Cakes when growing up, and we reminisced that we haven’t seen them anywhere for years.  A quick bit of googling discovered that they’re still available from the Thomas English Muffin company – but no stores in Juneau stock them. We’ll see what we can do about that…..

Our deck project is well underway, sliding door from bedroom to deck has been installed, the deck floor is pretty much done, and the hot-tub was delivered yesterday. A black bear ambled through the yard in the morning to check on progress.

The days are shortening, we’ve lost 6 hours of daylight in the 3 months since solstice. The daily (except Saturday) Juneau Empire awaits us regardless of what time we rise it seems. Lights up our early morning routine along with the automatic coffeemaker, our robes ‘n slippers, and the electric gizmo adding warm ambience from the fireplace. We don’t usually fight over who gets which bit of the paper, it’s pretty much settled that Bill gets the news while I get the bridge problem. The Empire‘s a vanishing species – a  good community newspaper. It recently began redesigning it’s website, albeit with annoying pop-up ads. One supposes they must be essential to help keep any newspaper alive. If you want to get a feel for what life is like here, subscribe to the Empire’s news (RSS) feed and read all about it.

Finally, we’re learning for the anti-health reform pundits that fines are taxes. If we have to coerce you into doing something needed for us to function as a society, it’s a tax.  Does this mean that fines for not carrying automobile insurance are a tax? Are parking fines a tax? Are fines for spilling oil on waterways a tax? Are fines for spitting on other people a tax? Gimme a break.  We are a social animal and there are too many of us.  Without functioning social norms it’s a short slide into anarchy.

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Strange to find myself easing back into employment after nearly a decade of retirement. As indicated in a previous post, now that we’ve settled in one place I began to realize I don’t seem to have quite enough to do – plus watching our retirement nest egg dwindle made the option of a paid job shine more brightly than a volunteer one.

After a few applications for part-time jobs advertised in the paper, I’d settled with myself that I would accept pretty much anything that seemed (at least marginally) worthwhile.  Ah well.   Three “Dear John” letters later I swallowed the fact that I’m over qualified and over age.  Hmmmm. Interesting noticing how it feels to be rejected – I’ve been lucky enough in life not to have too much of that. Empathized with the currently laid off, and felt extremely grateful that (for me at least) it isn’t a bread-on-the-table issue.  Then, by word of mouth, a job found its way to me. A good fit for my skills and values as well as (hopefully) for the organization.  I started on Monday. Since I intend to continue skirting around occasional hot-button political issues on this blog, it’s best that I not say where.  Better keep opinions and work separate.

So, skirting along, here’s my opinion on the current health care policy debate.  A column in the Juneau Empire reminds us that in this country 31% of  medical dollars are spent on administration (claims forms, insurance processing and profits.) The elephant in this living room is that the USA is the only country in the developed world where health care is a for-profit industry.  Thus, the current debate is not about health care or health policy, it’s about profits. It’s about how to keep the health care dollar as a corporate goodie and stop its switch to a public benefit. Paul Krugman explains why the market doesn’t and can’t work for health care – unlike cars or TVs it’s not a market-type of commodity.

The line-up of corporations swilling at the health care trough is long and entrenched: pharmaceutical companies (we abolished advertising for cigarettes and booze on TV, why don’t we abolish advertising for drugs?); insurance companies (ditto); laboratories; for-profit hospitals; for-profit HMOs; for-profit nursing homes; for-profit doctor groups; equipment manufacturers; etc.  They won’t give up their feed bags without a huge fight.  It’s a classic case of the big guys against the little guys.  Us little guys better get out there and do a little fighting – if we care that is.  And this includes the individual people who make up corporations.

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Can’t believe it’s a month since I last posted.  Time flies, life flies. I’m 70 years old – how much longer do I have?  And how long for Bill?  No way to answer that question except to remember to live and enjoy each moment.  Which means adjusting the old attitude when I don’t like something or what’s happening.  A great skill – learning to notice the old attitude and then shake it into shape as needed.  Story on the Internet triggered this line of thought – Go read it. Boiled down, it’s about a 72-year old longitudinal study of 268 Harvard sophomores that shows three ingredients for a happy life:

  1. Make an outlet for your fears and struggles – join a team, help others, laugh, lighten up.
  2. Be humble, remember you’re no more special than anyone else.
  3. Share yourself with others, give hugs and tell people you love ’em.

Not a bad way to begin the day….

So, on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say I’m up around 8.  But I still have work to do.  We’ve had three weeks of visitors, and some delicious weather.  Little League has been wonderful.  I’m finally “getting” how to practice effectively at the piano. (Make a note, Pat, need to write about that.)  I’m slowly releasing the stiff and sore from the Australia trip – thanks to that pain I am learning about the Feldenkrais method of body awareness and muscle control. (Make another note…) Jasper is taking sailing lessons – puts me right back in the armchair of wannabe’ness before we went cruising on Callipygia. I took some video of his class yesterday, maybe I’ll make a movie of it. But I’m kind of aimless. I need more structure to my time. So I’ve started looking for a part-time job.  With more to do I should do a better job of fitting the day’s pieces together.

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