Saturday, August 29, 2009

Health Care Debate.

For anyone who thinks that their health care organization or health insurance company has any interest in them, their health, welfare, survival, medical care or anything other than their premiums, read Nicholas Kristof's column in the NYT on 8/27/09.

Our experience, when still in medical practice, was like this: small claims were paid quickly, but they did anything possible to avoid paying large claims. Typically, when we submitted a claim for a lengthy hospitalization with a lot of dialysis treatments, there would be no response. After a month or so, we would call. They would say,"We never got that claim." This happened repeatedly. We would resend the claim-we anticipated and always had copies. They delayed again and when called said they needed to see the hospital record. I would get the record copied by the hospital, circle our notes and signatures, re-copy it and send it in. They would, of course, never get it until we sent a second copy. If we persisted and insisted, we would ultimately get paid, but 6 or 8 months later.

The concept here is to keep discouraging claims. Some people will forget or get distracted and not complete the process. Even if they do ultimately pay, they have been collecting interest on your money the whole time. Medicare, by contrast, always paid within a few weeks.

Understand insurance companies-they want your money and only want to keep it for themselves. Why do people want to keep this system going?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cold Nights.

8-28-09 VERMONT: The last couple of nights have been in the forties, the sun is noticeably lower in the sky and sets earlier. Summer is fading. Yesterday the grass had finally dried out enough to completely mow for the first time this season. There have been no new septic system events.

I walked the pasture with RoundUp to kill thistles, burdock and nettles, some of which had already gone to seed. I should done this a month ago. All the rain has left us with golden rod, mint and thistle that is five or six feet tall. The pasture is loaded with nettles, burrs, thorns, stickers, thistles, prickers and other nasties. We will need a mowing this fall for sure. I treated the pond with barley straw again. It slowly decomposes on the bottom, releasing small amounts of peroxide that kill algae but not fish or other pond critters.

I saw what I thought was a dandelion out front yesterday morning. When I got a closer look, it was a sun flower, a six inch sunflower under the spot where the bird feeders had been.

New blooms: miniature sun flower.

Tiny, volunteer sun flower. The blades of grass indicate size scale.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Frost Warnings in August.

8-26-09 VERMONT: David and Dorothy visited last weekend. They got to enjoy another siege of showers. They, the showers, left us 1.7 inches of more rain. D & D also got to experience another septic malfunction. The previous pump-out dislodged the alarm float in the pump tank. [Don’t ask.] I had to dig it out again for another repair which was actually easily done, and then I covered it up again with the dirt and sod.

Today the rain stopped until an afternoon shower showed up. Tonight there are frost warnings for northern Vermont! In August! I’m aghast. I had thought that the late bloomers were opening before their usual start dates, perhaps they’re anticipating an early fall.

This morning we went to a country auction in Groton, VT. Judy bought an old child’s block puzzle, and we drove home through Newbury, VT, a pretty town on the Connecticut River.

The tomato crop is much smaller than usual and many of the vines have died, perhaps from that blight that’s going around or from the cold, wet weather. The tomatoes we are getting are as good as ever. The corn, late as it is, is finally ready for eating and is fine.

New blooms: turtle head, bottle gentian.

Sun Flower.

Judy says that "Old Glory", with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, was the flag after Vermont [and Kentucky] became states in 1791.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alone Together.

8-20-09 VERMONT: Lily and I hiked on Mt. Ascutney to Crystal Cascade on Tuesday, and yesterday the three of us canoed on the Connecticut and Mink Brook. Today, Lily caught the early morning bus to NYC leaving us alone together again for two days.

I was back on the job at the crack of noon. I did a bit of rose pruning, sprayed some weeds with Round-Up, cleared the culvert, filled dog holes, watered the new plantings, planted a new purple iris in the pond, and planted hostas and lingularia in the porch bed from which I had pulled daylilies. They were: Hosta ‘Guacamole’; Hosta x ‘Gold Standard’; Lingularia dentata ‘Othello’; Lingularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’; and Lingularia stenocephala ‘The Rocket’. I lost the name tag for the iris.

I also laid wire mesh over an area that Gus digs up every day. I fill it in; he digs it up. Now we’ll see if he can use a claw hammer.

It has been dry for almost a week. There have been showers, but the total accumulation has been about 0.1 inches.

New blooms: globe thistle, lobelia, sedum.

Dewey Roquemore daylily. Redness!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Twofer.

8-12-09 VERMONT: It continues to rain everyday. We have had another 0.55 inches, and the yard remains soggy. Last night’s serving of rain came with a side order of electricity.

Today we went to Greensboro, VT to see Caspian Lake—beautiful—and visit Vermont Daylilies. The nursery has hundreds of different cultivars of daylilies. We bought four which will occasion a new bed for those and some other hybrids. The four are: ‘Fire Lane’, ‘Dewey Roquemore’, ‘Betty Warren Wood’, and ‘Lime Frost’. The first two are bright red, the third is yellow with frilled petals, and the last is white with a green throat—all dramatic. We lunched at the Highland Inn and drove back through Peacham which remains a delight—worth a trip.

Not your father's daylily-'Fire Lane'.

New wildlife sightings include a great blue heron visit to our pond, a coyote on I-91 and a tiny snapping turtle, about three inches long, who snuck into the pond.

New blooms: chrysanthemum.

8-17-09 VERMONT: Well, we survived. Alison and Dan had about thirty guests here, college classmates, spouses and children. The dogs were a big hit with all the kids except for one whose initials are, AMF. The septic system conked out Sunday, but was pumped out on Monday.

General Gus leading his troops.

The new daylilies and some other hybrids were tucked into a new bed before the weekend, and I bought some hostas and lingularia to fill the spots newly emptied by the transplants.

Lily stayed behind when her family left. We have offered her asylum. Lonnie and Bette arrived for a sleep-over as the horde departed, and now they have moved on to Northampton.

New blooms: helianthus.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Plague of Mosquitoes.

8-9-09 VERMONT: We had Alison’s family here for this weekend, and they’re due back next weekend with up to three dozen friends—yes, three dozen. It’ll be OK as long as they stay out of the gardens.

August started with 0.9 inches of rain, and then there were three or four dry days! Now, of course, it’s raining.

I cleaned the culvert again, repaired a section of the pond bank that had eroded, filled more dog dug holes and weeded. The mosquitoes are out, hungry and frequent. All the rain has left standing water for the bugs to breed, and the bats, big bug eaters, have largely died from white nose disease. The swallows are swooping and, well, swallowing bugs, but plenty of bugs are left to bedevil us.

New blooms: white star clematis, black eyed susan, potentilla has been out, but I forgot to mention it two weeks ago.

Water lilies appear to enjoy the rain.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Maine Event.

8-5-09 SOUTHWEST HARBOR, ME: August began with more rain. We left Vermont, by ark, to visit the Maine relatives on the third of the month. We hiked, Beech Mt, and boated in the fog on the fourth, boated in the fog and hiked Cadillac Mt. on the fifth, visited Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor. We saw an osprey and eagle. Tomorrow we head back to VT. XYZ gets my vote as the best restaurant on Mt. Desert Island, if not all of Maine. Bob’s Clam Hut is second. We were lavishly entertained, and it was good to see the nieces, nephews and progeny. We actually had three days here with no rain, yet. There was fog, but the weather was pleasant.

The sailboat masts are visible above the fog bank.

More fog, next day, the fog bank is being blown up and over Bear Island.

Bar Harbor, in the fog, from the top of Cadillac Mt.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ducks at Dawn.

8-1-09 VERMONT: July closed with another 2.6 inches of rain which totals 13.9 for June and July. We’ve seen a lot of wildlife the past few days. Deer and wild turkeys are pretty commonly seen, but foxes less so, and coyotes even rarer. A couple mornings ago, I was up early and saw a pair of female mallards on the pond. They were repeatedly diving, staying under for up to a minute, and popping up in a new spot. As the dawn lightened, I got a look at them through the long eyes and saw that they were eating crayfish. They hung out for about two hours before the dogs chased them away.

New blooms: first asters, helenium, golden rod, joe pye weed.

Ducks by dawn's early light.

Another daylily.