Monday, August 31, 2009

A Change in Colors

I changed my colors and layout since reading with the black background can be difficult and draining.
I hope you are having a great day as we prepare for the coming change in color in Vermont.
For us the summer is over August 31st. Now we enter the magic cooler season, though after the summer, 40 at night is status quo.
Short post tonight.
Best wishes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Math

I have to be brief today because it is Sunday, not a day of rest, but is a day we try to catch up with chores and priority garden activity.I have photos but they are still in the camera and will have to wait for a rainy day. Tropical storm Danny (who is also my brother), is sending fluffy ocean clouds our way and blowing winds to hopefully dry out the garden.We want to salvage what we can of the tomatoes decimated by late blight.
What does that have to do with new math?
I contemplated what to write this week and decided the healthcare debate is still a hot topic. Getting my colonoscopy instructions drove it home.
Every time we "interface" or have an "encounter" with the healthcare system, our heart rate beats a little faster, we look around to see if anyone is watching, we make arrangements considering every possible detail and its probability.
Sort of like calculus with many variables missing.
We look at the statistics, the likelihood of something occurring.
And with the thousand page magic bill the house has cooked up with their secret recipe, we analyze the content and are not fooled by the intimidating stack of pages.
After all, they just got us used to computing in Billions and Trillions.
What is a thousand anymore??
I know the secret formula for healthcare cannot exist in a thousand page document.
The success of healthcare depends, as it always has, on the dedication of caring human beings and the detachment from bureaucracy, not the embracing.
See Herrad's story on her blog which I follow impotently.
In the US her new wheelchair would potentially take as long to order and bureaucrats would be having to approve if she were on HMO or Medicaid. But she also would have appeal rights, activists in legal aid, politicians could speak up for her.
I vote for incremental changes to the current system we have in the US.
That's where the fractions come in handy.
Have a great day wherever you are.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

13 Artichokes

13 Artichokes we picked today and a few were large, a few small and the rest medium.
Glorious in spite of the problems this year. Tiny aphids trying to chew the tough stems.
More globes maturing every few days and multiple tiny artichokes sprouting in pairs.
Spiny pin like pain when I encounter a spike from the foliage or globe tips and I ignore it to get close to watching this miraculous event. Artichokes in Vermont.
I hope your day was special in some way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Faraway Images

I invite you for a minute or more to let go of your busy life and click on one of the Hubble images linked on my site. This is a Travelogue, after all, which I have to keep reminding myself of, especially when I get stuck in one place. Travel, I tell myself.
I look at the Aurora Nebulae when I am stressed by events at hand, I go to the Nebulae and ponder how long it takes to get from one side to the other.
I fail to comprehend light years, let alone hundreds and millions.
All that useless thought takes me far away.
Reset the cogs so I can go on.
Our taxes go to pay for the Hubble, so why waste the extraordinary images like the whale and hockey stick nebulae.
And enjoy your voyage.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"When you go for end of life Counseling,

Leave your walker or assistive device in the car,"
I heard on the Radio the other morning.
So continues the debate.
Here is my viewpoint about the "urgent" healthcare ruckus.
I sent to Senator Leahy and this is not a political statement.Hey, and Why would politicians dictate my healthcare system?
I am an RN Case Manager with almost 30 years experience working in Vermont between hospital, subacute, nursing home, insurance/HMO, long term care and home based care. That is in spite of low wages initially and tough conditions.I was laid off in 1996 because I was under 40 and the legislature protected the elder workers.I have recently lost over 40 thousand dollars in my retirement/savings, was denied disability insurance 3 days after my MS diagnosis and lost a bundle-on legal expenses from a court fight. But I never wrote you before that I recall.Maybe I was just stunned by circumstances.But I write you now, not angrily, but passionately, that you must not pass legislation that promises to fix the health care system in a thousand pages.My healthcare is pretty good now so please stop saying how broken it is. I agree with Medicaid waivers because I work for Vermont's Choices for Care. And yet I disagree with the generous financial loopholes where large assets are hidden and passed to others while I visit other starving or homeless Vermonters and pay very high taxes.Managed care is not something to be undertaken lightly. I worked for Kaiser and believed in our concepts but still it soured my stomach to turn down a circumcision because the child wasn't the right age.I have cared for Canadians who had to wait or spend their dollars in the US to get our level of care.And please support tort reform. Not only for health care. But also in cases like ours, where we lost so much.Finally, I must remain in my present health care support system. Do not change one thing. Add a catastrophic+preventive system for the poor. Vermont has an ideal system. I fear we will not be able to afford it much longer.Aren't you better off really studying what is working, who is happy, and who needs what? Then make incremental changes. Do not doubt we have the best health care system in the world. This means more to me than money or time. That is why I write today, not out of anger. My anger is gone since diagnosed with MS. I do not have the time for anger. Mary Gerdt RN

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Coldest Vermont summer on Record

This is a touchy subject but one I wanted to have some fun with.
Mostly since we have had such a cold summer. When you can refer to 70F degrees as "muggy", you really might have forgotten what 90F plus is (or my childhood Illinois memories of over 100 degrees+100 percent humidity for days). We are creeping up to the 80F range and now I worry the artichokes might shut off for awhile.
So have fun with my next poem. I did.

Global Warming
first draft
by Mary E. Gerdt
all rights reserved

The summer was predicted
To be an extra hot one
The polar bears were drowning,
I mean all and not one.

The ice cap receding like there is
No tomorrow.
The end of the world would surely,
Quickly follow.

The filthy air exhausting from our
Fires and cows and engines
Was warming up the air and
Causing mass frustrations.

The global messenger this summer,
Taking some vacation,
Was flying in his private jet
When it began a strange gyration.

It coughed and sputtered,
The first engine died,
Then number two it failed
Though the pilot tried,
The third one went
The fourth one whined and cried
The final engine held that bird up high
The pilot said a prayer.

Al looked out the window of his private plane
And thought how some thought he was simply insane.
He was sure his answer was to burn up the corn,
Ethanol was the answer,
His marketing plan born.

But alas like the engine on our poor garden tractor,
His fourth engine coughed and broke like a cracker.
And he sat in amazement, that arrogant man
Who thought to burn corn in his free falling plane.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Close up with our Artichokes

We are pleased with our artichokes. These photos will give you a better idea about what they look like.
Had a long day weeding the second planting beans, carrots and beets.
Hope your day brought a pleasant surprise.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Darkness

Better Forget
by Mary E. Gerdt
all rights reserved

Hot and sticky.
The weather had finally changed from the bitter cold to now the unbearable heat.
How are we to continue to tolerate this misery?
My sweat stung my eyes as I looked to the far horizon. I shook my head to refocus.
No sign.
I look in the opposite direction.
Don’t think about thirst. Those thoughts would not leave me alone.

Sometimes sharp. Sometimes dull.
Sometimes pleasurable in a sick sort of way.
Pain better than thirst.

Were they real?
Are they friendly?
They are too far away to tell.
My voice will not respond.
I am so parched.
A little squeak.
Smaller than a mouse cry.
Smaller than a mosquito buzz.
Surely they cannot hear me.

Are they real? Is that the sun? Or some delusions.
They hurt my eyes but I want to stare at them.
They have rings around them. Halos.
Am I dead yet?

How can I be dizzy lying down?
I feel I am floating but this hard ground reminds me I am on the desert floor.
A sore nags at my back side. Pain again. Stinging.

I feel I am rushing here and there. Flying in a way.
No pain for a minute.
Flashes and needles and little noises.
Beeping noises like a smoke alarm.
Loud then soft.
Soft then loud.

How could I sleep when I am dying?
Wasting living time.
Why not when it hurts so much to be awake?

I can’t move.
Something must be broken.
Pains here, then there, then gone again.
If I could raise an arm I could call the voices over to help.

I feel tears drop like rain. Little sad voices overhead. Is that an angel?
Pain then none.
Let me go.

Remember when I was alive and well and fighting the battles of life.
Remember when I smiled and laughed and cried and wondered.
When we loved and were loved and lost and gained.

Those days in ICU when my parched bloated body looked horrible.
When you saw my pain in grimaces and questioning looks.
“Why me?”
When you wondered if I had pain, was dizzy, could I cry?
Yes, but forget those days.
Better you forget.

notes: This poem refers to my projection of what an ICU patient experiences after 8+ years as an ICU nurse observing all forms of illness, delirium, end of life. There has been much MS Blogger activity discussing end of life issues. This poem is one of my imaginary ends.
Not good nor bad, I guess it is some of both.mary

Monday, August 3, 2009

Artichokes have arrived in Vermont

We were excited to find August bringing in our first 3 artichokes.
There are 3 here even though 2 are infantile.

We started our 40 plants indoors the third week in March after chilling the seeds in a cool room for a few weeks.
Then planted out beginning of June. The wind and cold were hard on the little plants but they persevered.
With the prolonged cold weather, we have now the beginning of our first globe.
We are eagerly anticipating the next 40 or so.
When we grew these before, we got 10-12 off each plant.
Here are some pic's from June 23rd-early plants.

Kodak ate my other pictures
from more recent views of what have become large beautiful thistle looking
plants. Savory to all Vermont bugs and subject to rotting diseases that plague the gardeners in this wet cold summer.

If we can pry out of the camera the images of the larger plants I will post those too.
Otherwise I am likely to just go snap a few more.
We are picking baby zucchini "Raven" variety, yellow squash "gentry" and red and yellow onions.
The onion plants we started in little cups and some had a few in the cup when I planted them. Now the small onion is pushing out the large one, leaving the smaller one to grow.
Happy we did black plastic mulch this year as these plants did best against the flooding rain we have had.
Hope to open the farm stand soon.