Saturday, May 27, 2006


I spent Thursday afternoon with my new Kaiser doctor asking about three things: a lump on my foot, red patches on my neck and possible hearing loss.

The red patches, she said, are probably my old friend Rosacia coming back to haunt me. The lump? Probably a cyst. She sent me for an x-ray. The hearing loss? She sent me to the hearing center.

This was magic to me. Why? For years, I was enrolled in HealthNet, which has become stricter and cheaper over the last three years. At age 56 and with a family history of osteoperosis, HealthNet wouldn't authorize a bone density test. When I got a bad rash and a scaly patch on my face, I had to wait three months for an appointment with a HealthNet dermatologist who diagnosed the Rosacia (by then pretty yucky) and said the scaly patch was nothing.

An uncle of mine died of skin cancer. Knowing the patch didn't look like "nothing", I paid out-of-pocket for a local dermatologist who told me, "Oh that's pre-cancerous." And she burned it off with liquid nitrogen immediately.

Two of my co-workers have also switched to Kaiser. One has lifetime diabetes and was getting nickled and dimed on every monthly Rx he requested. After 35 years, he knew what he needed. And HealthNet wouldn't cover syringes.

The other co-worker's daughter has serious asthma and HealthNet was cutting back on her doctor's visits as well as her medication. The mom got sick of seeing her daughter's hands turn blue during attacks and switched to Kaiser. Her daughter is now in school in Southern Cal, but she can get her meds by mail--ahead of time. There's a concept.

So to get an x-ray immediately and get a reference to a hearing center without a struggle or wait was terrific for me. People complain about Kaiser, but I see it as a model for the National Health Care we should all have.

Almost 20 years ago, I moved to Japan where I was immediately signed up for National Health Care, citizen or not. Japanese people assumed we had this in prosperous America. They were shocked to learn that if an American doesn't have health insurance, s/he is out of luck. Twenty years later we still don't have it and the only time the government discusses it is before elections. After elections, no one mentions it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


And I'm searching for cotton and linen yarns to knit. It's growing too hot to work with wool.

Mother's Day was a big deal for mi grande familia and it was HOT. The babies were stripped down to diapers and the older kids ran in the sprinklers. Menfolk supplied barbeque.

Rented "A New World" which is now out on DVD. It's a very poetic film. Not rushed, no sex (the actress playing Pocahontas was only 14 yrs old); although there's plenty of violence.

If you don't mind slow, long films, I recommend it along with "Wings of Desire"-the Wim Wenders version, not the L.A. remake. It's also a long, slow love story, with imaginative twists.

News from the Wandering Scribe, the British blogger who is supposedly homeless and living in her car. Here's the last entry:

My news was a book deal. I AM HAVING A BOOK PUBLISHED - hooray! I'm celebrating a bit prematurely because haven't got the thing written yet, but after what I've been through with all this, feels like that might be the easy bit. Sitting at a table after a warm bath, Beethoven on in the background, a glass of something in one hand, my pen in the other, hovering over all those pristine, blank sheets of paper. Writing a book can't be that difficult

And anyway, all those sheets of paper won't really be blank. Because for months, being here among all these trees, staring up and through them night after night, watching their leaves fall and new ones grow back, their branches snap off in high winds, and stripped clean of bark in rainstorms, laying like bones on the ground around them. Night after night I told bits of my story to them, sometimes talking aloud, sometimes staring it into them - all the things I couldn't tell anyone else, all the things my hunched-up spirit was tired of. Trees absorb pain, and some of these will one day be felled and made into paper, and I have this feeling that if I look really hard into them I'd probably see my story already there, like a watermark on their blank surfaces.

It's that little ";-)" that makes me suspect this has been a hoax all along, a route for entree into the publishing world. The second paragraph reads like a trained, experienced poet's work.

We shall see. If it has been a hoax, I say more power to her/him. It took guts, imagination and talent.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I've often thought how unfair it is that when a mother might have several children, each child should have more than one mother. At least a grandmother, an aunt or next-door neighbor who gives mom a break once in a while.

Having raised a son alone with no grandparents to help, I try hard to help my son's family with childcare whenever I can. I agree it "takes a village" but when there is no village, we have to do the best we can. I am thanked constantly for the help I give my family and the closeness among all of us with child-sharing is immeasurable.

In Japan, there is a Children's Day but no Mother or Father's Day. Everything in that culture is for the children.

According to Jim Hightower, Mother's Day was begun during the Civil War as a war protest by mothers who were sick of their sons and husbands getting slaughtered. As Hightower put it, the best way to celebrate Mother's Day would be to enjoy breakfast in bed and then go off to participate in an anti-war rally.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


In a fit of passion, rage, fatigue, grief, hunger, and spite, the person closest to me called me "a ridiculous person." Because of who I am, how I live, what I do and don't do.

Well, yes, but we are all ridiculous in some way or other, some more than others. I don't mind that. I am happy to learn from the Internet that there are plenty, if not millions, of people just as ridiculous as I, doing the same silly things.

Nothing brings home the ridiculous nature of one as much as watching a video of oneself; one's gestures, weight, hairstyle, wardrobe, speech. Clive Owen said in an interview that it was very humbling to realize how he walks, talks and looks by watching a 20-foot high image of himself.

Maybe instead of going to church every Sunday, we should all watch videos of ourselves over Sunday brunch interacting with other people to see our true selves more objectively. Not staged film, but impromptu stuff.

This could really help us keep a sense of proportion and humor--and humility.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A WEEKEND IN HELL... a weekend in the pediatric ward of my local hospital, watching saline drip into the veins of a beloved three-year old child.

But the good news is she is better and home again and laughing. And I am so grateful to be living in a place with health insurance and hospitals and good doctors and kind pediatric nurses.