Monday, May 31, 2010

Deep Thoughts on this, The Last Day of May

May has been quite a month. Here I sit on the last day of it, the end of a long holiday weekend to boot, recovering from illness. Although this has been a holiday weekend, the weather has been quite rainy. I remember camping in relatively fair weather at this time last year, I am glad that we didn't make similar plans for this year as we would have been rained-sicked out.

In reviewing my month, I must admit that my time spent writing has been almost non-existent. I have wanted to write, I just haven't quite figured out how to piece bouts of writing into a schedule that has me running here, there, and everywhere. That will change in June, I am keeping my fingers crossed!

On the upside, I have started the hiking season early. A huge thanks and much love to Megs, her much welcome visit from Oz helped to launch me into a series of early albeit short hikes. Hopefully the weather will clear and there is the promise of the upcoming summer for longer hiking adventures.

During May and despite the rather exhausting schedule of my three offspring, I have managed to read three books, "East of the Sun" by Julia Gregson, "The Sorrows of an American" by Siri Hustvedt, and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by, Stieg Larsson. I have also managed to see a few films and get regularly intoxicated with close friends. June needs to be a more serious month in terms of gym attendance, although part of me thinks that must have been how I acquired this nasty bug.

Another May is gone. I am not a big lover of Spring, Fall is my preferred season, but May is just so beautiful with the flowers and blossoms and sometimes warmer weather. June around these parts seems to always start out rainy, it might be a good time to head out of state once the kids are done with school. I should probably get started with planning that, but first I have to rest and get 100% of my sapped energy back.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Praise of a Civic Minded Chef

Earlier today I had planned to post a rant. If I had blogged in the morning, my post would have been negative and critical. As the day went on, I decided that I didn't want to be negative and critical. May has been an extraordinarily busy month, thus the lack of posts, and this praise has been floating around in the old brain pan for a while now. The praise is in honor of local chef, Tom Douglas and his latest plans to enhance the city of Seattle.

Pike Place Market is a staple tourist attraction in Seattle. Most tourists make at least one trip to the market. Now that the Lusty Lady has closed it's doors, the market area is lacking in smut, but what it lacks for in the porn department, it makes up for in homelessness and panhandling in Victor Steinbruck Park. As people finish or begin (depending on which end you start) their tour of the market, they are treated to an informal "tent city" as the front drop for an otherwise beautiful view of Puget Sound. If they are really lucky, they will be approached and asked if they have "any spare change."

Those of us native to this city have somewhat gotten used to the homeless camp that is Victor Steinbrueck Park, but Tom Douglas has plans to change all of this. He wants to offer up Salmon Nights at $12.00 per plate with the proceeds going to hire additional security for the park. Now all that he has to do is convince the Seattle City Council and naysayers like Tim Harris, Executive Director of a newspaper sold by homeless on the streets of Seattle called "Real Change." Mr. Harris seems to like the status quo. While "Real Change" is a great plan, it would be nice to see some of the proceeds in action now and then. Mr. Harris seems to also think that Chef Douglas' proposal would somehow be unfair to the Native American homeless who frequent the park, huh? Why? Because they are serving salmon?

In short, Chef Douglas is a doer and I support his efforts. I am hoping that the Seattle City Council sees the genius in this proposal and gives a go to the permit. It is time for a change, real change at Seattle's main attraction.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We are the Immigrant Land

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flam
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

By, Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883

These famous words gave new meaning to the statue gift presented to the United States by France . This sonnet was hardly noticed during Lazarus' life and was found after he death in a small portfolio of poems. The poem in it's entirety was engraved over the Statue of Liberty's main entrance in 1945. These lines, "Give me your tired, your poor/ your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." emitted a new ideal for the United States, this being the freedom to come here to this land and create a new life without religious and ethnic persecution.

Today many people are vehemently opposed to any immigration to this country. While I am not supporting illegal immigration, I believe that in order to oppose immigration entirely, one is also opposing one of the foundations that our country was built upon.

It seems that those that argue most against immigration are the very same people who consider themselves to be patriotic. How can this be? The message embraced as a foundation of this country is to welcome immigrants and give them a portal to freedom and new life. Nowhere in our history has the message ever read that one must speak fluent English prior to immigration, or be white-skinned, or from the "right" part of the world...and so on.

The Statue of Liberty is considered worldwide to be a beacon of welcome, leading immigrants to success and happiness in America. To not embrace this on some level vastly changes the message that our country has been sending to the rest of the world for over a century.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who wants Jeri Ringseth?,,,Nobody.

The Seattle Times has been doing some articles on the state of healthcare. Two recent articles have focused on the plight of patient, Jeri Ringseth. I didn't read the first article, only glanced at the picture under the headline. The picture today was larger and more detailed. When I picked up the paper from our porch this morning, read the headline, and looked at the picture I told my husband that I could already tell him three things about this patient 1) She is mentally ill, 2) She is more physically disabled than she looks, and 3) Her husband somehow enables this condition. Those are the three reasons that she has been in a hospital for 189 days and rejected by over a dozen nursing facilities in the area. Technically nursing facilities cannot legally reject patients based on their lack of ability to pay. Jeri Ringseth is a medicaid patient. But, they can get out of that legality by saying that they are not able to meet the needs of the patient. I agree, they are not. I don't think that the rejection of Jeri Ringseth is based solely on her inability to pay. Of course, staying in the hospital and racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt in medical expenses that will be passed on to those who are insured is not cost effective either.

I read the article, and the three things that I predicted were indeed accurate except for the part about the husband, which was hinted at but not fully disclosed. After working in skilled nursing facilities for more years than I care to admit, I have seen this plight many times before. Jeri Ringseth is mentally ill and has the cognitive ability of a third grader. She is a poster child for one of my biggest complaints regarding our present healthcare system and the one proposed by our current president. There are not facilities for those challenged by mental and physical disabilities.

Mental health has always been a "sweep it under the rug" issue. A decade ago our then President Bill Clinton made the decision that institutions were by and large a "bad" thing and many state institutions were shut down thus releasing countless mentally ill patients onto the streets where they continue to live homeless and unmedicated. The plight of those like Jeri Ringseth who also have physical disabilities is even more tragic. In light of these current placement problems, state run institutions don't look like such a bad thing.

Jeri Ringseth wanted to be out of the hospital by her birthday. Today is her birthday and she is still there. Recently, due to digestive problems, a feeding tube was placed which ironically might make finding a nursing home that will accept her easier. Due to her severe diabetes and subsequent loss of both legs, the feeding tube will ensure that the nursing facility doesn't have to monitor what she eats. This may sound lazy on the part of the nursing facility, but it is a very real issue. Jeri Ringseth suffers from severe diabetes, she has lost both legs because of this condition. I am not a doctor, but based on my own experience I have never seen a diabetic who monitored their diet and blood sugar levels lose limbs. This puts her in the category of someone who more than likely is unable to monitor herself.

I will wait for the next installment of the Jeri Ringseth story. Will she be placed in a skilled nursing facility? Will she remain in the hospital? or Will she go back home to live with her spouse (highly unlikely given the circumstances)?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mother's Little Helper

I just got through watching a very disturbing news clip from ABC. It was a part of a 20/20 focus story on mothers and drinking. While the episode was designed, using face-to-face interviews, to bring this secret habit to light, I found the interview tactics to be appalling. The woman conducting the interview phrased almost every question posed to a recently recovering alcoholic mother in terms of "Did you realize that you were putting your child in danger?" Although that question was only asked directly once during the ten-minute clip that I watched, every other question contained subtexts of this message. What the hell! Of course the mother knew in her heart that she was putting her child in danger. Here we go again, it seems like every issue that is supposed to focus on women is turned inside out in order to display her failures as a caregiver. Quite obviously this poor woman was struggling with leaving a high profile job in order to be a stay-at-home mom. For many women the transition to staying at home comes naturally and easily, for others it can be devasting and the subsequent guilt that they feel for not enjoying it can be overwhelming. So here is this mother admitting on national television that she drove her daughter while drinking and the interviewer asks "So you drove your daughter when you had been drinking, weren't you aware that you were putting her in danger?" I had to hand it to this mother who, after a long pause, said, "The answer to that is kind of obvious don't you think."