Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting Closer and Getting Done—I Hope!

Monday Gerald and I went to Carbondale as he had a hearing aide check up, and we thought we could visit some stores to shop. That much we accomplished. We planned next to go on down to Cobden after lunch and go by an orchard for apples and by Bill and Mickey Tweedy’s house for a quick drop-in visit. When it started snowing rather heavily, we decided we better get back to Marion. We did stopping for lunch on the way back to the farm. By then it had quit snowing so hard, and we took time to go by the Dollar Store for Christmas cards and a few other items. I found Aidan a battery-run play chain saw that makes a wonderful noise that I think he will love and his mother will hate me for. We stopped and picked up the Christmas letters from the fast print shop, where we had left them on our way over to Carbondale.

Back home I started working again on clearing up all the insurance papers, Medicare papers, and doctor/hospital bills on the dining room table. Ever since computers were invented, I have been unable to understand what I see on such bills. I hate messing with them. They come so many months after the event/appointment that I get very confused.

I miss the days when we had no insurance. I used to stop as I left the doctor’s office and write a check for $5 a visit if I remember correctly. (Gerald’s ag economics professor said health insurance wouldn’t pay off for a young farm family—and he was correct. The only year we had children in the hospital—two children, one of whom was in two different hospitals—we did have insurance. Gerald had bought group insurance, which a fellow farmer—older and much admired—had started more to help other people than himself. Gerald wanted to support his efforts. The next year we dropped the insurance. (Gerald said we would have been fine without the insurance—using the premium to pay the bills—but it was comforting to know we were covered.)

But we are no longer a young farm family, and times have changed. So we did get insurance many years ago. Yet it would be so nice to walk out of a doctor’s office and know the only paper we’d ever see would be the picture of the cancelled check when we received our bank statement. I have to wonder how much all that paper work costs per visit.

But I digress. I was determined to get those bills off the dining room table and a Christmas tablecloth put on before I started addressing Christmas cards on a table downstairs in the den. And I did it. Never mind that today I got one doctor’s bill back because somehow I had failed to put a stamp on it. I phoned the orchard to see about sending apples to my sister in Texas as I did last Christmas—but they explained it was too cold to ship apples now. Oh. I did not think of that.

Tuesday was made exciting with the belated arrival of Erin, our Texas A&M granddaughter. She started through Arkansas on Monday, where the roads were so bad that her grandfather and father advised her to get a motel that night. The next morning she started out only to soon have a two-hour delay while cars were cleared that had gone into the side of a bridge there.

Fortunately she had a book along to read. She also had a tiny black dog with huge ears named Acie to keep her company. No, it isn’t hers, but one she is keeping through the holidays for a housemate. Throughout the trip, she talked to her grandfather as she progressed to Illinois. Finally we were eating hamburgers together at the end of the day and getting acquainted with Acie, who somehow the next day ended up at Erin’s other grandmother’s house down the road apiece, and evidently they have quite a friendship going.

Erin has been busy and keeping us young as she comes and goes from Woodsong. She is connecting with friends here at home, helping her Gma Shirley (the dog sitter) get her Christmas shopping done, and visiting her high school teachers, We like having her around and teasing her about her “good jeans”—the ones with holes all up and down the legs—the expensive ones.

Yesterday I finished my first batch of cards, and today they were mailed. Who knows when the next batches will go out. I have sent cards (stragglers) in July. I like to keep in touch with old friends, and I know they have more time to read letters after the holidays.

I managed to finish my Christmas shopping Tuesday afternoon including a substitute gift for the apples I could not send my sister and husband. Gerald mailed that and her birthday present yesterday while he was in town. Gerald bought the men’s gifts today.

When he took over buying for the guys in the family a couple of years ago, he relieved me of my annual conundrum—what to buy for the men. This year he outdid himself and even wrapped them this afternoon while I was at Katherine’s house helping her when an aide could not come. We had fun going through her gift drawer deciding what she had stored away for various folk. I offered to wrap and was told she wanted that fun. (She had no idea how relieved I was.)

Sam came in with his trombone all excited about his school day. Instead of his regular classes, he had played with jazz band for the Rotary Club and a nursing home with lunch at McDonald’s in between. Two earlier performances this week were cancelled because of weather/illness problems, so he was quite pleased these were not.

Tomorrow we go to Lake Saint Louis for skin checks from a dermatologist there that our daughter Mary Ellen recommended, and we will visit with her family. Erin and Acie are heading to her family in Georgia, where she will also see her nephew Aidan, who flew home with his Gma Vickie on Tuesday. Gerry has been having fun watching cartoons with him, and of course Geri Ann loves having him around. He loves being around “G” and will be excited to see his “E” when she drives in.

After the weekend they will head to Aidan’s house. Tara says Maddux is missing his big brother Aidan. Gma Vickie will get to rock Maddux again while Gpa Gerry and Tara’s sisters meet him for the first time. Erin is taking our presents for that northern Illinois family by way of Georgia. Because tomorrow she is driving an older car of Gerry’s left in a shop here for repair, Erin’s is leaving her vehicle for their return stop from northern Illinois. So the rest of our presents for her family stay here. Come to think of it, it is not just the doctors’ bills that are complicated in this 21st century.

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