Monday, June 30, 2014

Give Veterans the Option to Find Care Close to Home

Give Veterans the Option to Find Care Close to Home

The recent scandals involving the Veterans Administration hospitals handling of medical treatment highlights what has been developing into a crisis for the last decades. Before the series of base closings in efforts to reduce government spending on non-essential military facilities, many veterans made conscious decisions to retire in geographical areas close to military installations for the proximity to free medical treatment. Since the bases have shut down, vets are in many cases forced to travel long distances for even basic care.

As an example, Grissom Air Force Base in Cass/Miami Counties in Indiana ceased active duty operations in 1994. Grissom at one time served as a Strategic Air Command facility from 1957 until 1991.  Numerous veterans retired in the surrounding area relying upon Grissom for their VA medical care. After the base closed, these retirees have been compelled to drive to Dayton, Ohio, downtown Indianapolis, or Danville, Illinois. One of my dad’s friends decided he’d just do without hearing aids rather than have somebody drive him to Danville for the VA benefits. 

There is a need to retool the entire VA so that it is more focused on the holistic care of our veterans. But one of the most critical changes should be how medical care is afforded.  Use the Medicare template, issue membership cards, negotiate fees with providers, and allow our veterans to use local doctors and hospitals. I know there are arguments that only military doctors know how to treat certain types of injuries. However, in todays’ world of modern medicine that excuse is hollow.  And ultimately, it will be more cost effective than maintaining outdated, bureaucratic laden hospitals that make people in need, those who served our nation,  travel long distances and wait untenable days, weeks or months for treatment.

And for those who believe a national health service would solve all of our medical care woes, take a look at the VA and ask yourself if this what you want for yourself and your loved ones.

This is not the first scandal to tarnish the VA in recent history if you will recall the withholding of benefits to survivors, backlogged disability claims, and failing to help place returning vets into jobs in the commercial work-force. We can and must do better.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

None So Blind – An Inspector Green Mystery by Barbara Fradkin

None So Blind – An Inspector Green Mystery by Barbara Fradkin

None So Blind is a novel in a series by Canadian author Barbara Fradkin involving the fascinating Inspector Green. I love police procedurals and investigations into murder.

This book, although a bit slow at the start, reeled me into the life of Inspector Green of the Ottawa PD, who has been receiving correspondence from a convicted murderer protesting his innocence for 20 years years. While Green believes he had a righteous arrest and conviction, there are developments that cause him to question his youthful exuberance and take another look at the evidence that seemed rock solid.

I thought this was a well-crafted story. I did not deduce the solution until the very end. And the final piece of the puzzle was not one of those wrap ups that made no sense. The bits fell into place and made sense, but still presented a surprise.

Apparently this is the 10th installment in the Detective Green series. It will be published in the USA this fall. The best recommendation I can offer is that I would happily read the earlier offerings in this series.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Really – Fall Catalogs in June!

Really – Fall Catalogs in June!

It is June 24, 2014 and I received my first fall catalog in the mail today. It was advertising the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale that begins July 10th. The temperature was 88 degrees Fahrenheit with an equal to higher humidity. The last things that I wanted to contemplate – wool, coats, boots, hats, gloves and winter accessories.

While I appreciate the fashion industry and the retail industry like to stay ahead of the curve, June is just too early to consider fall – which in my neck of the woods does not truly arrive until late October – 120 days or 4 months from now.

For me it is far easier to consider spring fashions in the midst of winter. One can justify the longings for linen, cotton, and bare arms and legs by fantasizing about vacations in the islands with warm breezes - far away from the gray skies, piles of frozen precipitation, denuded trees, and harsh winter cold. But even then, I don’t truly want to look at “resort -wear” at Thanksgiving.

Perhaps this is why I avoid actually visiting most retail establishments and shop online. I can avoid the bombardment of advertisements and the temptations for items that are not currently useful. And I do not want to even try-on winter clothes in the midst of summer. It is uncomfortable – no matter how cold the A/C in the store.

As an added benefit, many online purveyors of fashion have sales in an attempt to shed in –season goods just when I want them.

I will not fall prey to the madness. I don’t care what kind of deal is on offer – I am celebrating summer and living in the present. Today – I want sundresses, sandals. shorts, linen and straw hats. And I am happy living in today.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reupholstering Dining Chairs & Challenges with a Staple Gun

Reupholstering Dining Chairs  & Challenges with a Staple Gun

Nothing is ever as easy as purported! When I purchased the antique mahogany dining set from the estate sale in Ruckersville, the proprietor told me it would be easy as pie to recover the seats. He plucked one up from a similar chair, flipped it over and told me that with a yard and a half of fabric and a staple gun I would have refurbished chairs lickety split.

Fabric I HAD to cover!

So, I cruised fabric stores and searched the Internet for a neutral fabric that would appeal to both Todd and me. I found an eBay seller who was liquidating his design shop in Tennessee who had top quality upholstery fabric remnants at unbeatable prices and purchased a lovely gold damask piece by Brunschwig & Fils after obtaining the blessing of my delightful but stitch Nazi husband.

I was thrilled when the fabric arrived and eagerly displayed my purchase, only to be met with skepticism. The tone on tone print appeared to be too big. I disagreed and insisted that I could sway not so public opinion with careful measuring.

The Brunschwig & Fils Winning Choice!

No doubt in part to humor me, my spousal unit ventured out to Wal-Mart yesterday morning to present me with my very own staple gun. It did not come with instructions, but I was convinced that such a simple device must be intuitive.

So I measured the fabric, which was the perfect size, and cut the piece into 6 pieces. Then I tried to remove the first seat. It wouldn’t come off! It never occurred to me to check underneath to see if there were screws! Once my very amused spouse suggested there were screws, I was set. I removed two seats to begin – a side chair and an armchair. I carefully placed the fabric over the purported original covering and set about affixing the fabric to the wooden bottom. But, the staple gun did not belch up the staples! How difficult could this be!!! Anybody can use a staple gun – I’ve seen it on those awful reality shows!  Oops! I had it turned around! I found staples in the wrong place! The table! The middle of the chair! The carpet! Ouch! At least I missed my foot!

Then I tried to screw a side chair seat onto an armchair! Didn’t notice they were different sizes! And there was a gap! Too much fabric! It was too thick to lie flat. After some investigation I discovered the chairs had been recovered multiple times in the past. So, I had to undo my work, pull out the staples and then remove the underlying layers of fabric. Sigh! Once I removed the ugly fabric I was trying to hide, I found a lovely print that was still in excellent condition! But, since I’d gone to the effort of embracing this project, I was determined to finish!

What was hidden by the UGLY fabric!

So, I channeled my OCD productively and am satisfied with the result. For $48, a hairpin learning curve, and a little sweat equity (thanks to hot flashes), we have a pretty spiffy new old dining ensemble! I am woman hear me roar!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why I Practice Yoga at a Yoga Studio

Why I Practice Yoga at a Yoga Studio

Yoga has become increasing popular in the United States as a form of exercise. There are an abundance of DVDs for a home practice and most fitness centers or gyms offer yoga classes. But for me, I benefit most from practicing at a studio dedicated to yoga as a holistic way of life rather than a workout option.

I was first introduced to yoga at a fitness center in Frederick, Maryland. I was actually surprised at how it challenged me physically. But the fitness center environment was not conducive to learning the other aspects and benefits of practicing yoga. It was not until I relocated to Winchester, Virginia and became a part of the Dharma Studio community that I truly learned to appreciate not just the physical benefits, but also the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of my practice.

Learning to embrace the practice fully and integrate the philosophies into my daily life was transformative.  I discovered a new way of being and appreciating each moment, accepting that my journey is an individual one and it is okay to travel my road at my own pace, to accept that where I am is where I am supposed to be, that it is okay to take 6 years to stand on my head, that conquering fear is a process, that taking a break in downward facing dog or child’s pose is not accepting defeat, that self reflection and discovery will sometimes cause unresolved issues to rise to the surface when one least expects it but when the time is right, and that the right yoga studio brings together a community of like minded people who appreciate positive thinking, abundance, gratitude, peace, serenity, and acceptance.

I need the community to engage in a complete practice. I need the community and instructor to encourage me to try new things, to keep going when I’m hot and physically exhausted. I need the collaborative energy of the yogis and yoginis surrounding me to appreciate what is possible. I celebrate the progress of others as well as my own. I do not have the discipline to practice alone. But even if I did, I know that I would gain more from the studio environment. I always leave my practice at Dharma Studio feeling better, exhilarated, more focused on the positive, more attuned to my inner self and the world around me. I am filled with gratitude that the Universe led me to Dharma when I first moved to Winchester.