Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The State of Healthcare in the USA

This time last year, I heard on talk radio that once 2014 arrived and the Affordable Care Act became law that the doctor offices and doctors would be unreachable.  People would not be able to get appointments.
Health care would go to heck in a hand basket.

Then, on January first, I had a stellar gall bladder attack.  I went to my physician here in San Miguel who did an ultrasound, saw that my gall bladder needed removal.  He suggested that I get to a doctor in the USA and
have it removed as soon as possible.

I didn't have a doctor as I had not been to my former physician in over ten years.  That clinic would not take me as a former patient.  The receptionist said I would have to come in and apply.  My first thoughts were that maybe what I had heard on talk radio was happening!

Then my daughter found a surgeon who came highly recommended.  I called him, got an appointment, and flew to Houston.  Never has anything gone any smoother as far as professionalism, care and recovery.
It was kinda a "bada bada boom""experience.  I flew in on Tuesday, saw the Dr. on Thursday, had the surgery the following Monday and flew home one week later after being seen and released by the Doctor.

Smooth as silk.  That was my experience with Dr. Wallace and his team at St. Luke's outpatient surgery.

One of the reasons I was in Houston at this time last year was because my eye doctor here in San Miguel had told me I was getting a cataract on the only eye I could see out of - oy vey!   I wanted confirmation from the clinic I had been going to for at least four years.

I had the appointment.  Dr. Welton, who had been the doctor at the clinic that I had been using, said I needed to meet Dr. Marc Sanders who performed the cataract surgery and was a Professor at Baylor.  They both were of the opinion that, at that time, I needed to have the surgery.

Whoa!  I was NOT ready for that.  I had to ruminate on the situation.  I did get a new contact prescription that helped immensely.  As many of you know, then I worried, thought and finally decided as my vision got worse and worse, that I had to go forward with the surgery to remove the cataract.

I made the trip in August to Houston.   Scared to death that I would be returning, possibly, not being able to see.

Wonder of wonders, the team at Diagnostic Eye Center were just as professional as the surgeon for the gall bladder surgery.

With their "point person", Janie Espino, who answered all questions, gave calming comments and scheduled the surgery and follow ups, I felt in more then competent hands.  I let her and Dr. Sanders know that I was
terrified.  They assured and reassured me.

In fact, Dr. Sanders said he would like to do more.  He wanted to use the laser technology that would allow more precise procedures to be accomplished.  He wanted to remove the astigmatism and several other things.  I let go of my fear and let him.  The two surgeries were at the eye surgery facility at the University of Houston Eye center on campus.

I'm still awed by my new vision!  Every morning when I rise, I can't believe I can see so well without glasses, contacts or anything.  Same thing all day. Better then in my whole life. You "see", I've had to wear something or put something in my eye for over 70 years,  I still have the thought that I need to remove my contact lense at night and then say, "Nope, no more".

To top all of this off, I received a hand written thank you note the other day from Dr. Sanders! 
So much for all the hype that doctors don't care; that doctors don't have time; that the quality of care would lessen.

That certainly has not been my experience.
In all my life, in all my need for health care, I've NEVER received a hand written note from a Doctor.
It made my day.

My point is that  healthcare in the USA, at least in my case this year, has certainly been excellent and way over and above what I expected.  The other thing is that Medicare and my supplemental policy paid for nearly every penny.  My drug coverage paid for one medicine which was $1100USD and I only had to pay $117.  Whew, thankfully.

If you are ever in need of eye care, please contact Diagnostic Eye  Center or Dr. Wallace in Houston.  Let them know I sent you as a friend,  I wish you good health...........

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Street Scenes in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - October, 2014

I FINALLY got to the jardin to sit on the bench and observe life in San Miguel.  My usual routine used to be that I would get there every Monday and Friday.  It has been quite a long time since that has happened.  I felt the need........to watch life in Mexico again.

There are times on the bench when no one walks by and one can just contemplate the azure blue sky or the flowers hanging on the fence in front of the icon of San Miguel, the Parroquia.  But, it doesn't last long.
A large group of happy teenagers descended on the jardin and were enthralled and photographing.  Photographing what, you say? 
They were enjoying the buskers from New Orleans who have been in town for a couple of weeks playing blues at various venues.  This day they had plopped down on the bench next to me.  The two of them were delightful to talk with as they have been all over the place.  I asked them where they were going next and they said Guanajuato or Queretaro.  Now those are two different directions.  Aaah, a great adventure.
Just taking off and going.

The teenagers look like kids from anywhere.  One of the musicians was handing out free cds.  Every one of those who received a free cd said "Gracias".  It was a delight just to sit and enjoy their happiness.

It is such a relaxing thing to just sit and wait to see what is going to happen.  Something always does.

Leaving the jardin to meet friends for lunch, I was driving since the restaurant was on the other side of town.
Up ahead was a sight I love to see.
Don't you love that the policeman stands on a little stool?  No street lights in San Miguel - something else that is unique.  The photo is pretty straight forward.  BUT, what happened as I started to drive by was what the policeman did.  He "posed" and laughed.  He put one hand behind his head and sort of swiveled his hips.  He had seen me take the photo.  I started laughing and he waved.  I giggled all the way to the restaurant.  It's those relaxed little things that bring delight to life.

Oh, and another thing, at Christmas time, "locals" take wrapped gifts and plop them around the little stool for the policemen to take home for their Christmas.  First time I saw that I was amazed.  Now I just smile!

Viva Mexico!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Devastating News in the Colonia

The street I live on has only five houses on it.  One at the far end is occupied by a Dutch couple in their late 80's who have been in Mexico for at least 50 years.

At my end of the block, there are the next door neighbors' house, his brother's house on the other side and the two on my property.

Although I don't interact on a daily basis with my neighbors, we always acknowledge each other and speak.
I've never been in my next door neighbor's house but have been in his brother's house, just recently.

The children, 10 at my next door neighbor's house and 10 at his brother's house, have been my connection.

I've always brought toys, such as kites, bubbles, little stuffed toys and other small things back for them.  Once I brought plastic dinosaurs and the kids and I sat out on the street and played with them.

All wonderful kids.  Now those that were babies when I moved here are in their late teens!  One or two have "gone north" to work.  In other words, they're in the US working.  They all are so respectful and polite.  Several in both houses take music lessons.  I often see them going down the hill with their violin in the case or something else in a case for a lesson.

A couple of weeks ago, right after I returned, I was locked out of the house as I forgot my house keys.  So
I waited for about 1 1/2 hours for Javier, the gardener to come and let me in.  At the time, only he and Josefina had a key. That has been corrected.

While I sat in the car waiting, I noticed there was a lot of comings and goings at the brother's house.  The oldest boy stood in the doorway greeting people. I had a sense of foreboding at the time.  Their grandfather had lived with them for quite a while.  I wondered if he had passed.

In fact, when I spoke to the oldest boy I asked if all was all right at their casa and he told me yes. Many of the children speak English.

Then this past Monday I saw the black ribbon tied in a bow over the front door.  Oh no, my sense of foreboding was correct.  I spoke to Javier on Tuesday morning, my next door neighbor, to ask about the

He told me that his brother had died of cancer.  I was thunderstruck and devastated.  I still cannot get over this.  To imagine the mother with ten children wrenches my heart.  Thankfully her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and all of their children are next door.

My neighbor was always, always out with the children.  They came down several times to use my big ladder to paint the outside of the house.  They came to my garage sales where I loved just giving them stuff.  How could you ever sell to a neighbor?  I can't.

At one point he wanted to buy my Pathfinder.  I told him he needed a van, not my Pathfinder and we both laughed.  I don't think he was any older then about 40.

My dilemma is that I don't know what to do for the family.  In the USA, I would be taking cooked meals to them for a while. But, since I don't cook in the Mexican style, I doubt that they would want my food.  I just don't know what is appropriate.  Can anyone help me?  Money?  Food? Then today I realized that the
Christmas holidays will be coming up in a couple of months.  Toys?

Probably one of the reasons I am feeling such angst is I remember how it was when my husband died and I had three children.  As the holidays came, I worked myself into such a state that I ended up sick in bed for at least a week with flu.  So, I'm feeling for the mother.

I admit that even though we talked all the time with each other, I don't know the man's name or his wife's name.  I'm embarrassed to admit that.  There are so many kids, that I can't keep all their names straight and a few years ago I stopped trying.

Nevertheless, I want to do something.  Any ideas or suggestions?  I would really appreciate it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's About Time!

The cake for about sixty people said it all!  Ron and Fred, my dear friends of twenty-three years, who have been together for twenty-three years finally got married.

Fred said it very eloquently yesterday.  In the length of their relationship, until recently, marriage was not a word they used as it was not possible.  But in the last few years, things have changed radically.  When our friends Al and Stew married in Massachusetts last year, the ball began to roll.

I had mentioned to them that they might do the same thing.  They looked at me with surprise.  But, the ball kept rolling.  This summer on a long road trip, journey would be a better word, they married in Massachusetts as well, in a wonderful little church with about fifteen friends in attendance.  People who traveled that distance to be with them.  Unfortunately I wasn't one of them, not because I didn't want to be, but other things were going on in my life at the time.

Therefore, yesterday was very meaningful.  To see them surrounded by their church community and many other friends was significant.  They are much admired and loved.
The place was so crowded with people that I didn't even attempt to take photos after everyone began to arrive.  Other then the next photo of some new friends, Micheline and Michael who are  friends of Ron and Fred.
As I sat and reflected, as all the activities were going on, about the fact that Ron and Fred and I met twenty-three years ago on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, it was quite emotional to realize the journeys we all had taken during that time.  Some times together and sometimes not.

It's a testament to deep friendship, and sometimes silliness, that we have endured as friends.  It was great to see the end result with their marriage as they begin a new season of their lives.
Thankfully the best is yet to come.  Who knew twenty-three years ago that we would have traveled these roads together and be together for such an auspicious occasion?  NOT me!

Blessings, Ron and Fred!  You are good men who deserve all the happiness and love that you are receiving and will receive in the future.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pre-Hispanic San Miguel de Allende in the Context of Ancient Mexico

I've been attending a course titled Pre-Hispanic San Miguel in the Context of Ancient Mexico and Mesoamerica.

The lecturer is Albert Coffee, an anthropologist and archaeologist.  Albert is extremely knowledgeable on the above subject as he was involved in the excavation of the pyramid outside of San Miguel that has been
open to the public now for several years.

He graduated from LSU, came to San Miguel on his way to Oaxaca or somewhere farther south.  He stopped to visit a relative and the rest, as they say, is history.

He met the woman who owned the land that the pyramid was discovered on.  She asked him to document many things, including the stories and legends of the elders in the area.  Through that, in one way or the other,
he connected with INAH which oversees the excavations.  He was thrilled to be involved in that as well.

Personally, I have studied and read and read many books on Mesoamerica.  Visited archaeological sites as far away as Tikal in Guatemala along with many in Mexico.  It is beyond intriguing to me how the pyramids were not only the living places of the ancient peoples, but they also served as places to study astronomy, develop the numbering system and writing systems along with so many other things.

The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City along with the magnificent museum in Jalapa add to the intrigue about the ancient peoples of Mexico and Mesoamerica..

The course has been interesting each and every time.  I've learned more then I could have imagined.

Mexico is like peeling a giant onion.  Just about the time you think you're at the core, you find that you still have a zillion more layers to peel.

Forty years in this country, one way or the other, and I'm still intrigued by how much I still don't know!

The course is under the auspices of the Lifelong Learning Program that was started a few years ago.  This has been the first course that has interested me enough to sign up.  The location of the lectures is the Instituto Allende which is a mere shell of its former vibrant self.

I've just received a reading list from Albert.  Uh oh, more reading to do.

I also confess that I've not been to the Canada de la Virgen site as its quite a hike, just to the site, once you arrive there.  Bad knees are keeping me from making the trek.  The things discovered at this site are beyond fascinating.  I'll elaborate on that more after the course is completed.

In the meantime, if you're interested, you can search the internet for the stories of Canada de la Virgen.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chris Smither at McGonigel's Mucky Duck in Houston Texas

On September 5th, 2014, I joined several friends to see Chris Smither play his unique style of blues.

I had met Chris about this time last year when I traveled on the Roots On The Rail train trip from LA
to Seattle and back in restored Pullman cars.  It was an "over the top" treat with ongoing music, deliciously prepared food, scenic scenery along with about fifty people from all over the world, including some great

I wrote about the upcoming trip at that time.  Imagine my surprise, when one of my dearest friends, Amanda, emailed me and said that she had known Chris as a baby in Ecuador!  I had forgotten that she had been born
in Ecuador.  I was astounded.  We corresponded back and forth about this fortuitous circumstance.

The day that we were departing from the LA terminal, I met Chris.  I turned to him and said, "I have a dear friend who knew you as a child in Ecuador".  Without hesitating, he said, "Amanda"!  I was flabbergasted.

They had not had any contact since he was about seventeen.  Although Amanda's parents and Chris's parents had stayed in touch until all had passed.  Amanda had, over the years, enjoyed Chris's music.

Chris and I sat, at one point or more, and talked about my longtime friendship with Amanda.  About her husband and family and all that kind of stuff.  He shared his life with me as well.  About his wife and daughter and his career and his traveling, along with where he lives at present.

I doubted when the trip was over that I would ever see Chris, Peter Case, Dave Alvin or Rick Shea again.
Amazingly, I've also seen Peter Case since!

Then, the unimaginable happened for me.  Chris Smither was going to be in Houston when I was going to be in Houston for my eye surgery and also taking care of my daughter.  First I contacted Amanda.  Then I called my friend Bob and asked if he could get a ticket for me, as he lives very near to the Mucky Duck.  I WAS NOT going to miss this.

Amanda got tickets.  Wrote to Chris to let him know that we, along with her husband and cousin and her significant other would be there.

And we were!

I was the first to arrive.  Chris was warming up with another musician.  A superb guitarist whose name I don't recall.

He headed over to talk with me and expressed how much he was looking forward to seeing Amanda after all these years.  I could hardly wait to witness the whole evening, to tell you the truth.

Then the group arrived.  Chris came over and the conversations began.  How wonderful that somehow this could happen!  I was delighted.

The first show was exceptionally good.  Chris would give us looks to see if we were enjoying the show.  Are you kidding?  It was fabulous.

After the first set, we went to buy cds and take photos.  Unfortunately, this one is from the side.

But, this one, taken by someone else, got us from the front.  None of us in the whole group wanted the night to end.  It was truly a "once in a lifetime" experience to reconnect two people who had grown up a little bit together as children.  What were the chances of that?

The older I get, the more these kinds of things happen.  There is no such thing as a coincidence!  It's synchronicity.

If you get a chance, go on You Tube and listen to Chris.  You'll be hooked.  He's been on the music scene for 50 years and has just had two new albums released.  One is a retrospective with him singing (that I've nearly worn out) and a new one with singers from his genre honoring him.  He is lauded for his distinct blues style and song writing.

You'll thank me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Great TV Caper!

No photos - to protect the innocent!  Just the facts, man.  Isn't that what Joe Friday used to say?

While in Texas, among other things, the TV in the guest house just died.  I mean, what else could happen?.
I've never had TV problems in fourteen years.  But it did, happen.

In order to expedite the matter and to keep the tenant happy, my son, after receiving a call from me, dashed
over, got the TV in my house and installed it in the guest house.......to keep the tenants happy.

When I came home, I had the dead 1998 Sony sitting on the table in the living room.  What to do?  I did look at flat screens in Texas.  I even saw several TVs, with good pictures for sale, at, of all places, the Goodwill for the snappy price of $39.95.  Now these were not slouchy TVs, just not the current rage ones.

I didn't do that either - no new flat screen or no new/old $39.95 one.

Instead, I asked my dear son if he had seen any TV repair places in his colonia and voila, he had.  He told me that on 20th of April street right past Orizaba, he daily saw men working on electronic devices, mostly

This past Monday, late in the afternoon, after I had gotten Javier to load that beast in the back of the Pathfinder, I arrived at my destination.  Except, there was NO place to park.  So in true San Miguel style,
I just stopped in the middle of the street, put on my hazard lights like I see everyone else do, and waved
at the man in the doorway.

Obviously this wasn't the first time this had happened because he literally ran out to the back of the SUV, grabbed the TV, like it was a box of Kleenex, and ran back into the shop.

I thought, in my best Spanish, that I asked him to call me before repairing to tell me the cost.  I gave him my card with my phone number.  As I left I wasn't sure if he was calling me or if I was supposed to call him.
I surmised I was to wait for a call as I didn't know his name, his store name or his phone number.  Ha, I hadn't even gotten a receipt for the dead TV.  Who cares?

On Thursday morning I got a call. "The TV was ready.  It has a good picture."  Oh my, how much?
Seven hundred pesos - about $53 USD.

As I got to the door this time, after parking far down the street, they immediately knew who I was.  How?
I guess the red hair and blue eyes?  Heck I don't know.  But, the two men proudly showed me that the TV was like new.  I exclaimed and thanked them profusely.  The man then promptly threw the behemoth on his shoulder and down the street we went to load it in the back of the car.

Of course, even though it worked in the shop, it didn't work at my house.  My son and I tried everything.
We figured it had something to do with the satellite but neither of us knew what.

So the beloved satellite man arrived last evening and, as usual, within five minutes had it all working perfectly.

The lesson I learned yesterday is that the TV is programmed by the remote that goes with it.  When the TV was put in the guest house, the remote wasn't but we guess that they turned it on at the TV.  Anyway, after a quick remote shuffle, both TVs are working perfectly.  Good as new.

Things ALWAYS work out in Mexico, if you just have faith and trust in the people who do the work!
VIVA Mexico!