Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - The Golden Ticket

I lied. This week is not Jumping Through Medicaid Hoops, Part 2

Dad was Ma's primary care giver, and he took the brunt of her frustration and mood swings. With her safely in the nursing home, I thought Dad would have some much needed peace in his home. Without her, he seemed to go downhill very quickly. He was actually near the bottom of the hill, but with Ma around was able to mask his difficulties, a very common phenomenon in people with Alzheimer's. Dad couldn't perform basic tasks. He was no longer doing the laundry (a job he did for years!) and though  his cooking skills weren't even close to Ma's, he had always managed to cook himself things he liked to eat. I was worried about him using the stove especially after I found candle wax all over the cook top, in pans, measuring cups, coffee mugs. And we're not talking candle wax from a birthday candle, but gobs of wax as if he melted one of the four foot Easter candles used in the Catholic church. So we bought a new microwave as the one there was on the fritz. We also bought Dad our own version of meals on wheels, Marie Calendar's frozen dinners. Himself would stop every evening on the way home from work, to nuke Dad a dinner and to sit with Dad while he ate. If Himself didn't, Dad wouldn't use the microwave (it frightened him) and he wouldn't eat. I would buy bags of salad and grape tomatoes and portion salad for him in sandwich bags. I made individual sandwiches, too.I also bought the giant bags of generic cereal Dad liked. The kind that had 60 servings. We also bought him his favorite cookies. We bought items that didn't require cooking, and he could eat out of hand if he got hungry during the day before Himself arrived. What we found was Dad went through all the food in a couple of days. If he napped during the day, he woke up thinking it was a new day. Or he'd forget he had eaten and would eat again and repeat the cycle. He was like a puppy and didn't know when to stop eating.

His buddy from the police department would see Dad walking around town at night, give him a lift home, and then call me before he got off shift at 7 AM to let me know he was filling out another elder at risk report. I knew I'd get a call from the state Elder and Protective Services social worker. Dad was on their radar. 

Four months to the day that Ma had been in the nursing home, Dad took a 2 mile walk at 2 AM along a busy highway. Fortunately, an angel of a tow truck driver picked Dad up before he became roadkill. The driver noticed how confused Dad was and dropped him at an ambulance service. From there the EMT's took Dad to the local hospital. The local hospital called me at 6 AM to let me know Dad had earned his Golden Ticket. He was being sent to a geriatric hospital for a 10 day evaluation and then a trip to the nursing home.

I was relieved I had Dad's Power of Attorney, worded with language that stated if invoked, I had the authority to admit him to a nursing home and a Healthcare Proxy. I also felt guilty that I had to use them.

When I admitted Ma to the nursing home, I asked if they would be able to take Dad, too, when his time came. I didn't expect it to come around so soon, but at least he would be with Ma and at a nice facility.  Then began the next round of the Medicaid paper chase.

Next week: Jumping Through Medicaid Hoops. (I promise)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Raffaela (Fannie) Mottola and Achille (Archie) Todisco (my paternal grandparents)
Married 28. April 1918
They were married in Our Lady of Mont Carmel Church by Father Cherubino Mezzadri (I just love Fr. Mezzadri's first name)
today would have been their 95th wedding anniversary

This photograph is from 4. July 1943. The photograph was taken on the steps of Our Lady of Mont Carmel Church in East Boston, Massachusetts on my parents' wedding day.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Friday Five


1. I got up very late. I woke up at 8 AM, usually I wake up at 5 AM with Himself. (The alarm clock is on my side of the bed)

2. I woke up tired and grumpy because

3.  At 1 AM I woke up with a wicked headache. Some water and acetaminophen didn't help much. I couldn't settle and get back to sleep.

4. I was up at 1 AM because I was very hot, hot enough to burst into flame (though that problem was probably not due to the headache. At least not entirely.)

5. I think the headache was caused by barometric pressure. There's an upper level weather disturbance  coming through which may cause some showers later today. I just wish my radar wouldn't pick up these disturbances when they cross the mid-West.

Are you prone to weather headaches? What do you do to find relief?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Resistance Is Futile

Part of the lesson plan for this week. Crayon resist with simple tools. I used a box of good ol' Crayolas to draw and color some iris on a scrap of Arches Text Wove. Then I painted over the drawing with blue watercolor. The areas of paper that were still white absorbed the watercolor. The wax crayon areas resisted the watercolor. The effect gives a stained glass effect.

Any color watercolor will work. Originally, I did the drawing using black watercolor. The drawing looked like iris at night. They looked fine, but not what I really had in mind. So rule of thumb, if your drawing is made of dark colors, use a light watercolor. If your drawing is light or bright, use a dark watercolor.

What are you working on today?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Jumping Through Medicaid Hoops, Part 1

Nursing home costs can vary from $7,000 to $11,000 per month or higher. Most Elders on fixed incomes and limited resources can't afford the costs, but someone has to pay. No one gets a free ride. Enter Medicaid, a Government entitlement program for families and individuals with low income.

When an individual going into a nursing home, a Medicaid application is filled out to see if the individual qualifies for Medicaid. Bank accounts, secondary real estate, stocks, bonds, are all looked at. There is also a "5 year look back period" to see if monetary gifts were given to family members.  the IRS does not tax gifts that are under $13,000 per year and such gifts do not have to be reported. Medicaid doesn't make a distinction so all monetary gifts must be paid back dollar for dollar.

This is why it is so important to protect your estate long before long-term nursing care is needed. Seek the guidance of an Estate Planning attorney. As an example at age 80, you had an estate plan done. You sheltered your assets, gifted your children and grandchildren and all was right with the world. That all changed when you turned 85 and found you needed long-term nursing care. Medicaid will expect you to pay all that money back. If however, you did your estate planning at the age of 79, or prior to the five year look back, no worries. Your estate becomes a legacy for your heirs.

Medicaid has a very simple rule to figure out the monthly amount a resident must pay to the nursing home:

Social Security Income, less health insurance monthly premium, less $72.80 for personal expenses. Yes, a measly seventy two dollars and eighty cents. For example:

$1,000.00     monthly Social Security benefit
-   200.00     monthly health insurance premium (like Blue Cross Blue Shield)
-    72.80      measly monthly personal expense allowance
  $627.20      monthly amount you pay to the nursing home.

In the above example,  you pay $627.20 each month to the nursing home and Medicaid pays the balance for your care.  Medicaid allows you to have no more than $2,000 in your bank accounts. This amount is if you and your spouse have individual bank accounts. At least in, Massachusetts. For joint accounts the amount is something like $2,300.

 If for some reason, you end up over the magic $2K number, you will have to make a private pay amount. At the nursing home where my parents are, the private pay rate is $379 per day. It's like paying for a hotel room. So you pay however many private pay days needed to drop below the magic $2,000 number. Clear?

The application process is fairly straight forward, if only one of your elderly parents needs nursing home care. If they have individual accounts, all money except $2,000 is transferred to the account of the parent not needing nursing home care. The money is to be used for the running of the home and living expenses: heating costs, utilities, real estate taxes, food, etc. The real estate value of the home is not counted.

My parents had individual checking accounts. It wasn't always like that. They had a joint checking and savings account for many years and Ma took care of the finances. That all changed when she got hooked into playing scam lotteries and psychics and whizzed through their nest egg. Bills weren't being paid. A few years earlier, Dad (with my urging) decided to open up his own checking account and to handle the running of the household accounts.

With Ma in the nursing home, and Dad not far behind, I also urged Dad to give me, The Brother, or someone he trusted Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Proxy, and to have a Will made. Dad agreed. Financially, everything was hunky-dory. Dad had plenty of money to run the house and live comfortably, but that all turned pear.

Next week: Jumping Through Medicaid Hoops, Part 2

I'm not an attorney, and I don't play one on television. What is described in this series, is my experiences. Your mileage in your state may vary. Seek the counsel of a qualified attorney for Estate Planning, Makes sure you find an attorney that understands Elder Care Law. Social Services at the Senior Center where your Elders live can make recommendations.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Glimpse of the Grail

For months I have been trying to piece all the bits and pieces as I trace my genealogy. For quite awhile I've been at a road block finding information about my mother's parents and a family member I thought might be my (maternal) grandfather's cousin. I'd seen both names on a 1910 census. Pasquale Scrima and my grandfather, Domenico Riccio listed as boarders. On the 1920 census, I found they lived two doors away from each other with their families. I had a gut feeling they were somehow related, but no proof. Until yesterday.

While searching the records at Ancestry.com, I found a NY Passenger list for the Ship Regina D'Italia. It arrived in NY on 16. May 1914. My grandfather was listed as a passenger, but more exciting there was also a notation of where my grandfather was going and who he would be staying with. He was heading to Boston.  Pasquale Scrima was listed as brother-in-law. Patsey, as he was called, had a wife, Maria. Maria is my grandfather's sister! My great aunt! Until now, I had no clue my grandfather had siblings.With this little tidbit of information, I feel as if I've glimpsed the Grail!

And this all lines up with the story my mother told me of how her parents met. But that's a blog post for another day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Among my dad's things were three spiral notebooks filled with family history, memories of growing up during the Great Depression and his military service in WWII. Rather than transcribing the notebooks, Himself thought my task would be easier using speech recognition software so he gave me his copy.

I asked the Young One for my headset and mic which she had borrowed for a class. She said I didn't need it with the built-in mic on the laptop. She watched as I installed the program and went through the training routine.

The process seemed simple enough. Read a short paragraph so the program could "learn" your speech pattern. I chose to read the Alice in Wonderland sample. Alice sitting with her sister and bored to tears because the book her sister was reading had no pictures or conversation. What was the use of a book without pictures or conversation?

What the hell? The cursor was flashing a yellow arrow above the very first word of the paragraph. The Young One snickered. Start again. "The" and the arrow moved to the second word. Blah, blah, blah, and what was the use of a book without pictures or conversation? What the hell? The arrow was still flashing above the second word.

I have been told by friends outside of the New England area, that I speak very fast. I think you all can't keep up. Neither can the programmers of this software. But I gave it one more time. Blah, blah, blah, and what was the #@$@ use of a %$%^ book without %^&^757 pictures or ^$#9$# conversation?

Obviously, the program isn't sophisticated enough for a Bostonian accent or else the employees of the software recognition corporation belong to the S.T.O.A. Listen to the Bob and Ray routine if you need to be edumacated.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Friday Five

I used to visit with my friend, Teague, once a week or at least a couple of times a month when my girlies were little. With family and work obligations, we're lucky if we see each other every 4 or 5 months. With the warmer months around the corner, we found our calendars actually correspond at least once a week. We were talking about places we'd like to go, but have never visited and they are all close to where we live.

We both wanted to visit the  Willard Clock Museum. Neither of us have been and the museum is only two towns over from where I live.

Teague was also surprised when I asked if we could visit  Walden Pond. Yeah, the Walden made famous by Thoreau's book. Teague has been there many times. I used to drive by the exit when I was going to computer school and later when I had clients up north to visit.

There were some other places Teague has been that I haven't, and I asked if we could see: Louisa May Alcott's House

 Fruitlands Museum My calligraphy teacher's mother was the first bride to ever have her wedding there.

Garden in the Woods I've driven by this a million times, too.

Are there places around you that you have never visited or you have to wait for out of town guests before you go?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Marathon

Art looks across to her sister, Science
Dartmouth Street Entrance
Boston Public Library
Thank you to all who inquired about my safety after yesterday's tragic events. Though I claim to be a Bostonian, (I attended college there, my relatives lived in East Boston) I actually live some 45 miles west of the city. My family and I were not at the event. We are safe.

I had gone out to lunch with a friend and was visiting with her when her husband came to tell us about the tragedy. We turned on the news and like many of you watched events unfold on television. At first, we thought the explosion was caused by a gas main rupture, but when we heard about the second explosion we knew something terrible had happened.

It's so hard to describe feelings after an event like this. Horror, shock, and sadness. This was the area of the city where I spent my Artist Retreat Weekend only a month ago. The events happened around the corner to the right of my photograph. If you have seen photographs or still images of the bleachers, that's where they were located, outside of the "new" (built during the 1970s) library building. This area of the Back Bay is so very familiar to me. I was never afraid to walk the streets in this section of the city during the day or night when I was a student here.

I'm not sure what the perpetrator(s) of this heinous act were trying to accomplish. What message they were trying to send? I know they must be ignorant of history. Of the history of this city of Boston. It's an old city. Boston has witnessed other historic and tragic events. The destruction of the tea, a massacre, the start of a revolution, the birthplace of freedom. They also failed to make a connection to the event they chose to disrupt. The Boston Marathon. This was the 117th running of this race.

The elite runners of this race had already crossed the finish line some three hours before. Those that were crossing the line or on the course on a brilliant, April  mid-afternoon when tragedy struck were running for charities or for a personal best.

The connection these base perpetrators failed to make is the race was not lost. The race is not over.
This is not a race to the swiftest. It's a race of endurance, of heart, of personal best, of pride. It's a race of courage and endurance.

We will bury and mourn the dead, comfort the injured, but life goes on. As it always has, as it should, as it must. We will forget whatever ethnic heritage we might lay claim to. We are not Italian, Irish, African-American, Middle Eastern...We are Bostonians. We are Americans. We will not stand in fear. We will endure.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Save The Date

On Sunday, 5. May 2013, I get to be the Worcester Art Museum Artist in Residence du Jour. Come spend the day at the museum from 11 AM to 5 PM. There are some exciting exhibits on view. Follow me around the gallery as I look to the collection for inspiration. Join me in Studio 100 to watch me work and create. Don't miss out. My appearance is for one day only. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Spied

This apple is not a Honey Crisp. Just a generic image
 I got from Morguefile.com
with my little eye, an apple while I was at Target. This wasn't an ordinary apple. This was a Honey Crisp apple. THE premiere apple my Minnesota friend raves about (the apple was cultivated at the University of Minnesota.)

I've never had this variety of apple before. It certainly was a pretty looking apple. It was round in shape like a McIntosh apple and had a bright red color. And shiny! I have never seen such a gloss on an apple before. Like Snow White, I was enticed to take the apple even at the ridiculously expensive price of 99 cents each! Perhaps, next time, I should wait for the Fall when apples are plentiful and not rare.

The apple had the texture of a McIntosh apple. Its taste hinted at a Delicious apple which I am not fond of. I prefer tart apples like McIntosh or my favorite, Granny Smith. Still it wasn't a bad apple with its pleasant, sweet taste and crunchy texture. Score: 3 out of 5 stars.

What's your favorite apple variety?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Charmed, I'm Sure

When I teach, I wear a tee-shirt that coordinates with the lesson. Last week's lesson was about decorated and illuminated initials. I wore my Scarlet Letter tee shirt, a souvenir from a visit to Salem, Massachusetts. Usually no one notices my wardrobe is lesson coordinated, but last week as part of the class, we went to look at The Scarlet Letter in the 20 th. century gallery at the Worcester Art Museum. One of my students made the connection.

This week's lesson is more illuminated and decorated initials because they are too fun and add punch to a calligraphic piece. Unfortunately for me, the other tee shirt that coordinates with this lesson must have shrunk in the wash. What to do, because they will expect me to be lesson coordinated?

On a trip to Michael's I came across a small, picture frame charm measuring 1 1/4 in. square. Perfect. The students will be drawing Lombardic Versals so I came up with this little monogram. Looks a bit like Finding Nemo, but it will do.

And what tee shirt will I wear? A Doctor Who shirt done in the style of Alphonse Mucha.

Pigma Pen, Derwent Watercolor pencil, Schminke Gold watercolor.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Friday Five

Last night, my friend and I were chatting about the levels of friendliness in other parts of the country.

She's from the Midwest. My experience is Midwesterners are very friendly.

I'm from New England, home of the Yankees, the original ones. The ones who came to this country on the Mayflower in 1620. As a general, sweeping rule Yankees are cold. If you move into a new community, you're not considered a real member until the first person you ever met when you moved in dies, or you have five generations planted in the ground, which ever comes first.

I'm also conservative. I don't have an inner child, I have an inner Puritan. So, some things that make my little, inner Puritan positively scream.

1. It seems the accepted norm for greeting people nowadays is a hug. Nothing freaks me out more than a hug from a stranger. If you're not a family member or close friend, don't touch me.

2. Seven years ago, I visited my Midwest friend in the Land of Here There Be Dragons, and we were waiting to board a riverboat for a brunch cruise on the Mississippi River. I was wearing a pair of buff, suede slip-ons. Suddenly, I was rushed by a herd of elderly women yelling "Ooooh, love your shoes! Where did you get them?" And then they bent down and began petting and fondling my shoes! My little, inner Puritan is still rocking in a corner and chanting, "Thee will be alright. Thee will be alright."

3. I have never had a massage at a spa. Nor will I ever. No surprise there.

4. While waiting in long lines at stores or banks, strangers share with me some intimate details of their lives. Himself is amazed at what strangers tell me. I don't want to know about your gall stones or to see your appendectomy scar. And I'm never sure about the proper etiquette in these situations. Is it proper to stick my fingers in my ears and sing, "la la, la la la"?

5. At banks or places of business, people just assume they can use the diminutive of my first name. Only my ma has that privilege.

When you meet people for the first time, are you a natural hugger or are you reserved?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Affirmation Cards

Tested supplies for Saturday's class on Suminigashi . Suminigashi is a paper marbling technique. Drop sumi ink onto water. Like an oil slick on water. Gently drag a toothpick or plastic comb through the water to make a pattern. Place watercolor paper on the water, gently tap the back a time or two and carefully remove the paper. Ta-da!

I decided the marlbed side would make an interesting look for a deck of affirmation cards. Paper cut to 2.5 inches by 3.5 (same size as an ATC) No ego problem, here. "I'm wicked smaht" as only a Bostonian can pronounce "smart."

Sumi ink on Canson 140 lb. watercolor paper, Pigma pen, Derwent Watercolor pencils, Ziller Glossy Black ink, Gillotte 303

What are some of your favorite affirmations?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Finding A Facility

With Ma in the geriatric psych hospital and temporary guardian/conservator papers in place, the race began to find a long term care facility (i.e. nursing home) that would be able to take Ma. Not only was I looking for a nursing home that would take Ma, but I needed one that would also accept Dad when his turn came around. My parents had been married for 68 years. The only time they had been separated during their married life was 1943 - 1945 when Dad was in the Army Air Corp. during WWII. It was important to me to find a place that would take both.

Finding a nursing home is a bit like searching for colleges. You tour places, look over the grounds, the rooms, meet some staff, and talk to the business office about finances and financial aid (Medicare). The facility will send a nurse to do an evaluation to see if they are equipped to handle the level of care the elder needs and if they have room. Just like a college search, you need to have four or five places in mind as your elder might not get into your first choice.

If your Elder has to spend time in a rehab facility due to a fall or illness, pay attention to the surroundings. The short term rehab facilities are also long term care facilities. What to look for: Is the building clean? Does the building smell? Are the staff kind and patient? Are the residents clean? Is the facility quiet or are the residents screaming and crying? Does a staff member respond quickly to requests? Are there activities too keep residents entertained and busy, or are residents just parked in a common area with nothing to do and no one to talk to?  Do not announce your visits and try to go at different times so you can see what happens on different shifts.

My criteria was simple. I didn't want to put Ma (or Dad) into a hole or a prison. Since Dad was still living in their home, I wanted a place that was closer to his house than mine. He had lots of friends at the Senior Center and in his church choir, I thought if I couldn't take him to visit Ma, one of his friends might be able to give him a lift.The social worker at the geriatric psych unit, me a list of places to check out.

One facility on her list, I nixed right away. Ma had spent some time at the facility in rehab when she had fractured one of the vertebra in her neck. They had her wheelchair fitted with an alarm so if Ma got up out of the chair on her own, the alarm would go off. I had stopped in to visit and found Ma standing up next to her wheelchair. The alarm was singing. Ma's roommate came over and showed me how to turn the alarm off. Not one staff person came to see why the alarm was going off! Ma has a red wrist band on that screamed she was at risk for falls, but no one came to check on her!

My first choice was the ivy league of nursing homes, one town over from where my folks lived. A friend of mine had her mother and in-laws in this nursing home and she had good things to say about it. The facility was run by nuns and was on the same route as Himself's commute to work. If items needed to be dropped off, he'd be able to do that. The grounds were also well manicured with lovely gardens. Residents could be taken outside in nice weather. The common areas had lots of alcoves where families could visit privately. The first floor lobby looked more like a hotel than a nursing home. Each wing had a sun room. There was a coffee shop. Residents got coffee for free and family members/visitors could have coffee and goodies for next to cheap (coffee was 25 cents a cup) For residents that were ambulatory and could manage, there was a large dining room on the first floor. Victorian furnishings, (a little too pink for me, but one of Ma's favorite colors), real linen tablecloths and napkins, real silverware, glasses and plates. There was also a beautiful chapel and residents would be escorted for religious services if they wished. Residents could join the choir. There was a cooking club, sewing club, billiards and a men's club and other activities. The day I had the grand tour, ladies were being escorted to the beauty parlor to have their hair done.  I saw lots of formal gowns and was told the facility was having a Prom. This place was perfect.

I received Ma's acceptance call, the day before the Court was to grant me the temporary guardian/conservator papers. Not only would the facility accept Ma, but when Dad's turn came around, there would be a place for him, too. After the court date with papers in hand, Himself and I stopped at the facility and began the paper work to have Ma transferred from the geriatric psych unit to her new home. What a relief!

With Ma "in", Himself and I joked we now had legacy when our turn came around.

Next week:  Medicare Hoops

Monday, April 8, 2013

Card for Prissy

My elderly neighbor, Prissy, broke her leg last week. Looks like Prissy will be spending the next month or so in a rehab hospital.

I'm rather lost today. Monday is the day I go to Prissy's house to pick up her trash. She only has one dinky bag of trash and a couple of recyclables. Silly for her to pay for trash pick up. Mid-afternoon, I'd give her a call.


"You got trash?"

"You comin' over?"

"Yeah, put the kettle on."

I've been having tea with Prissy at least once a week since we moved here 27 years ago. She's like another mother only she doesn't push my buttons like my ma does even though Prissy sometimes has the same opinion as Ma.

Tea without Prissy today. And wouldn't she just love to hear the Leaf Lady spoke to me last week?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kayak and Customer Service

A month and a half before the trip to Boston The Young One and I recently took, we searched for hotels that were close to the convention site. First, there was the sticker shock about the cost of a hotel room and then no hotel rooms from here to Nebraska were to be found.  Himself suggested we try booking the room through Kayak. We did and we got a great rate for 4 nights at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, $170 less than the room rates offered by the hotel.

A week after the reservation was made, The Young One found out the team didn't have to be in Boston two days earlier than the convention start. Great, I'd save a bit of cash on the room. I called the hotel, told the clerk we wouldn't need the room on Wed. but would arrive on Thurs. instead. No problem. Even though, we had booked through a third party, he said he would take care of everything.

I should have called back, the day before we were to arrive, but I didn't and there was a small problem when I arrived for check-in. No credit had been issued and I had been expected the day before.  The clerk gave me a song and dance about dealing with a 3rd party company. Fortunately, I remembered the name of the clerk I spoke with over the phone. There was some back office chit chat behind the closed doors of the reservation desk. Clerk came back, told me to call GetARoom.com (company that handles hotel reservations for Kayak) for the credit as the hotel couldn't issue the credit.

I made the call and there was another song and dance about getting a refund, but the helpful clerk would talk to the hotel and call me back. No phone call to me. I figured I would have to eat the extra room rate. Punishment for not dealing directly with the hotel.

On check out day, I asked the desk clerk about the refund. She went to get her manager which turned out to be the clerk I dealt with when I checked in. He said he received an email from GetARoom that a credit would be issued. He said I would receive an email confirming the credit.

No Email, but it was over a weekend. No email all week. On Friday, there' was a voice mail from Kayak customer service. A credit will be issued, but depending on the "bank" it could take anywhere from 7 to 10 business days or two billing cycles to show up. It's been two weeks since our trip.

So here I am still in the Kayak without a paddle. It amazes me the lack of customer service there is nowadays. I spent most of my business career dealing in customer service. When I worked at the cement company (a Fortune 500 company, btw) if a customer had a problem with our product or delivery, the problem was resolved quickly and a credit issued quickly. Ditto when I was a programmer/consultant. If the client had an issue with the billing, the issue was resolved quickly. The motto was the customer was always right, even when s/he was wrong.

Honestly, Kayak, it isn't the bank that is taking a rock of ages to issue the credit. It's you! You charge my account quickly enough. You should issue the credit tout suite, also. The bank isn't issuing the credit. The bank is waiting for you to issue the credit. Your cashflow must be really low, really poor if you can't issue a credit for a measly $159 and change.

I have no issue with using Kayak to book services. As I said, we got a great rate at the Little Princess Hotel, but you may want to think twice about using the service especially if there's a chance a problem arises.

In hindsight, I know I should have listened to you, Andy. You never steer me wrong when it comes to advice. I'm confidant the Captain, my Captain wouldn't have let me down and a refund would have been issued without a lot of dancing around.

Have you used Kayak? Any problems?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Friday Five

Black Lambie Cake looked more like Rowlf the Muppet
Five surprising things that happened this week

1. Himself was doing the taxes and found The Eldest can no longer be declared a dependent. Odd that she can still be covered under our health insurance until she is 26. Go figure!

2. Wednesday, The Leaf Lady called me on the telephone. Hand to Gawd, she did! She hasn't spoken to me in 22 years, but she called on Wednesday. When I saw her name come up on Caller ID my first thought was "I wonder what the %^$#% she's calling to complain about now?" Yes, I was very civil and polite to her. She called to let me know...

3. My elderly neighbor, Prissy, was taken by ambulance Wednesday afternoon.

4. Prissy called me from the hospital on Thursday. Poor old lady fell and broke her leg. She had tried to call me, but couldn't manage her cellphone so she finally pressed her LifeLine button and got emergency services. Guess I won't be having weekly tea with Prissy for awhile. She said she was going to rehab.

5. The doctor's office my parents used to visit called. My parents have been in the nursing home for two years and haven't seen this doctor in all that time. I wasn't able to take the call, and the office never left a message. I wonder if someone butt dialed me?

Any surprises for you this week?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stained by Sharpie

Painting on fabric now got easier. Sharpie came out with brush tip fabric markers. No fuss, no muss. The markers are easy to use, and the colors are vibrant.  I found the set of 8 markers at Staples for around $20.00

Have you made wearable art? Have you used the Sharpie Stained fabric markers?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Becoming My Own Grandma

With Ma being evaluated at the state hospital, the State now moved to terminate  Ma's rights and to assign her a guardian to make decisions about her healthcare, and a conservator to monitor her funds. Julia asked me if I wanted to assume these duties. I was under no obligation and could easily have walked away. In cases like this, the Court prefers a family member to be the decision maker, but if a family member can't or won't, the Court will hand the job over to a professional guardian/conservator (an attorney). The family would have no say as to healthcare decisions or selection of nursing home.

My parents were very good to The Brother and me. To the best of their abilities they gave us our hearts' desires. They treated me as The Little Princess (Dad more than Ma). I couldn't in good conscience walk away from them. I said I would act as guardian/conservator. The Brother didn't want any part of the day to day nitty gritty of care (a gender issue) and he also felt that only one person should be making decisions. That made my life easier as I didn't have to ask for opinions or get into arguments if views differed. I made whatever decision I felt was in Ma's best interest and would be easiest for me.

I thought the court procedure would be a little like the television drama Law and Order. Court date and time set, and at the end of the day, the Judge would render a decision. At the Probate and Family Court, everybody who had court business that day was assigned the same 8:30 AM appearance time. You arrived at the courthouse and hoped your lawyer arrived early. The lawyers lined up in front of the Clerk of Court and the day's docket was set on a first come, first served basis.

The attorney for the State explained to me, the Judge would ask my name, relationship to Ma. The attorney and Julia, the social worker would state the case and ask that I be appointed Guardian and Conservator.

At 10:30 AM. we crammed into the courtroom with other families and their lawyers. It wasn't as private as I thought it would be. Everyone that came and went in the courtroom could hear your business. There were lots of sad cases involving small children.  Finally, Ma's case was called. As all this was happening, I was in a panic brought on by guilt that Ma would also be in court. A relief that she wasn't, but a nagging feeling Ma wasn't going to be allowed her say.

This part of the procedure was surprisingly quick. The judge asked me my name, relationship and the lawyer and social worker made the case Ma needed long term, nursing home care, and I was willing to be appointed as her guardian and conservator. The judge nodded and said I would be assigned as a temporary guardian and conservator. She would revisit her decision in three months. Next case.

I wasn't expecting a temporary appointment, but when I left the courthouse, I had the necessary papers to have Ma admitted to a nursing home. I was like Mortimer from Arsenic and Old Lace when he was trying to have his brother committed to a rest home. "I've got the papers! I've got the papers!"

I was also the mother of a 92 year old woman.  I was now my mother's mother which made me my grandmother.

Next week: Finding a Facility and Negotiating Medicare.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Key Ring

I'm not one for shopping in stores especially if I have to produce a frequent shopper card to get specials or discounts. (Personally, I think all shoppers who visit a store are entitled to all promotions whether they frequent the store or run in for a quick errand). The worst part is carrying around all those cards, and then fumbling at the register to find the right card.

If you have a smartphone, you can easily download and carry all your shopping cards without fear of bursting your wallet. Key Ring is a free app for iPhone and Android users. Using your app, scan all your shopping cards. They are now located all in one spot, all specials are automatically loaded onto the card. While waiting in line at the register, simply call up the app, find the card and show it to the cashier. The cashier can use the hand scanner to record your purchases for marketing. The cashier can also manually key your shopping number, if the hand scanner doesn't work.  Key Ring is a win-win for all. Marketing can track your purchases, and you won't suffer muscle strain carrying around all your cards.