Tiny notes of happiness bring smiles

Three years ago, I wrote things that made me happy on tiny slips of paper and put them into a jar. The object was to do it every day and then read them when the year was over. I’m a little late. That was 2015, and now it’s 2018. But these multicolored pieces of paper still make me happy. Three years ago, I was getting over a badly sprained ankle that I injured between Christmas and New Year’s. (read the blog posts about that here and here). My father had survived his heart surgery and had not yet broken his hip. Like now, I was playing and singing at Sacred Heart and plugging away at my writing career. Annie and I walked these coastal woods most days. Her muzzle wasn’t all white then. The tree had not fallen on my fence and house. And gosh, Medicare was way in the future.

I’m thinking I’ll write little happy notes for this year, too. I can start with this morning’s beautiful pink sunrise. Or maybe last night’s full moon. Or the moment after yesterday’s walk when Annie and I visited with our neighbor Pat and the dogs Harley and Cooper. Three big dogs to pet at once and a friend to talk to: Heaven. Even in the midst of horrible times, we can still find little things to be grateful for.

Here are some of the things that made me smile in 2015.

The ankle:

* First sun in winter. First soak in the hot tub since my injury.

* Buying my own groceries despite limping in with a crutch

* Walking to the end of the block

* New ankle brace arrived. Put shoe on, was able to walk almost like a normal person.

* A real dog walk on my sprained ankle, and it didn’t feel too bad.

* Walking on two good feet.

Food!

* Ham and eggs

* Tuna melt at Fishtails

* Turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce and iced tea

* Big salad with slices of linguica on top, Portuguese sweet bread on the side

* Marionberry pie with vanilla ice cream at The Chalet

 * Fresh-baked peanut butter cookies

Writing

* Kind words from an editor who called my novel a feel-good book and my writing masterful

* Reading my poems to the kids and parents in Siletz, feeling like a rock star

* I won a writing contest!

* Reading poems I wrote 34 years ago and finding them good

* Sitting in the sun writing a poem

Music

* Creating a choir of strangers for the World Day of Prayer and making beautiful music from a few pages of words and notes

* Singing full out with mandolin, fiddles, and guitar all in perfect harmony at the South Beach jam

* Feeling the power of my fingers on the keys of a perfectly tuned piano

Miscellaneous

* Laughing with Dad on his 93rd birthday

* Stunning quiet of the coastal forest in soft spring sun. Moss-wrapped fir trees

* The first perfect pink camellia blooms appear on my neighbor’s bush

* Shiny new library books

* Nice repairman makes dryer hum

* Admiring the lawn I just mowed

* Reading and dozing in the loveseat by the fire with Annie sound asleep in my lap

* Spinning out on ice and surviving

* A great night’s sleep

* Doc says I’m healthy

Instead of a jar, this year I’m using a tall, sturdy box with sayings about dogs printed on it. A gift from a friend came in that box, which makes it all the more special.

Join me in saving those little moments. When life gets tough, we can reach in and remember that there are good things to celebrate every day. You’re welcome to share your “moments” here.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Sue

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Robo-Guy Just Doesn’t Understand Me

I’m writing this while listening to “on hold” music that sounds like the record is stuck and somebody needs to move the needle. I try not to do non-writing business during my writing time, but if I wait until later to call my insurance company, I’ll lose my courage, so now, while we have sun and hail happening at the same time (craziest winter ever), I dial the 800 number and encounter Robo-Guy.

Now, Robo-Guy and I have a problem. He does not understand what I’m saying. I think I’m speaking English. I’m enunciating as hard as I can. And yet he doesn’t seem to get me. He keeps spitting out a list of choices, none of which apply to my situation. Specifically, I’m turning 65 on Thursday, I have gotten a pile of stuff in the mail from Medicare and Blue Shield and I don’t understand how the two insurances interact. Do I have a Blue Shield “supplement plan” plus Medicare or what? This is not on Robo-Guy’s list, the same list I saw online before I decided I would have to use the telephone.

Every time I start to mutter to myself, he stops and restarts his list. I must be silent unless I can say something that’s on the list. BUT IT’S NOT ON THE LIST.

I take a chance. I say “Medicare supplement.”

“Did you say benefits?”

“No.”

“My mistake.” He repeats the list.

I repeat “medicare supplement.”

He says, “Did you say benefits?”

Head slap. “Yes.” I’ll say anything that gets me to a human being.

So I get one. I immediately forget his name. Dennis? We’ll call him Dennis. I give could-be-Dennis my information. He puts me on hold. The line goes silent. Am I still connected? Oh! There he is. My plan does not show me having Part D. Part D? But he’s not the right guy, which I knew because I picked a “wrong” choice to get to a human. Would I like to be connected to the other guy? Yes.

Commence the loud hold music. I start to scribble because I am unable to sit and do nothing and the music cannot be listened to. Why is loud annoying music considered better than silence?

Oh! Dennis. He’s still working on it. Hold on.

Why not give us news, information, quizzes, gossip, the Beatles, anything but this noise? How about, this is brilliant, how about employing professional “hold chatters,” friendly people who will talk to you while you’re on hold. You could talk about anything: work, kids, recipes, the weather, frustration with your in-laws. Kind of like therapy. I think it’s a great idea, as long as they’re live people.

Hey! Dennis has delivered me to Erica, who actually makes jokes. She’s going to check which is my primary and which is my secondary insurance. She giggles. “Who’s on first, who’s on second?” She actually remembers the old comedy routine. I love Erica.

Now I’m back on hold. The music didn’t miss a beat. For anyone calling government, insurance or financial institutions, always use the bathroom first and come supplied with coffee, tea, or whiskey and something to do because it’s going to take a while.

Erica is back. I’m listed as a “PPO retiree.” Okay. Blue Shield is still my primary insurance and Medicare is secondary. Is that what it’s supposed to be? Shouldn’t it be flip-flopped with Medicare primary? Somebody who is older than me and understands this stuff, please explain in plain English?

Erica offers to transfer me to another person. I can’t take anymore. “Not today,” I say. I may be over-insured, but going into my birthday, at least I am covered. I am double-blessed with insurance from my late husband and from Uncle Sam. I know a lot of people struggle to have any kind of insurance at all. I am lucky to have had Blue Shield all these years via Fred. On my own, I’d be at the mercy of the Affordable Care Act, which our president wants to abolish.

I’m still thinking about Robo-Guy. Oddly, I feel guilty, like I screwed up our conversation. He wasn’t even real, but he sounded so real, so anxious to please yet so perplexed by what I was saying.

So, tell me about your Robo-Guy experiences. Does he have trouble understanding you, too?

***

I wasn’t going to write about my upcoming birthday anymore. So I’m turning 65. Get over it, right? Right. But let me close with two important reminders about the upcoming anniversary of my birth (Thursday, Thursday, Thursday).

1) Some of my local area friends are joining me for lunch at The Chalet in Newport on Thursday at noon. Contact me if you want to come, too, so we can get a big enough table. No presents or even cards are necessary. I’m still thinking I will end the day at The Drift Inn in Yachats, where the music begins at 6 p.m. Let me know if you want to join me there, too. In between, I might go for a long hike if the weather is decent. If not, maybe I’ll do a little antiquing.

2) The Great $6.50 Birthday Book Clearance Sale will continue through the month of March. You can buy copies of Shoes Full of Sand, Freelancing for Newspapers, Childless by Marriage and the original edition of Azorean Dreams for only $6.50 each, including shipping. That’s less than half price. The next two customers will also get a free copy of my limited edition chapbook The Dog Ate It, my gift to you. Do not go to Amazon for this sale. This is strictly between you and me and Paypal.