Monday, February 26, 2018


Ed is waiting for all the ice to melt so that he can begin chopping down a tree.
The cheepers are always waiting for one of us to emerge and bestow foods and favors upon them.
My morning, filled with sunshine and warming temperatures, is spent on long, long hours of waiting as well. Nothing as exciting as felling trees or receiving treats. I wait for the number B13 to show up on a screen where numbers flicker occasionally, perversely out of order and not in any recognizable pattern.

I am one of those unfortunates whose (online) application for Medicare was flagged as requiring additional documentation. Who knows why. Possibly because I was born outside the US. On the SSI website I am told to bring a birth certificate and passport or other ID to the local SSI office. Just as I set my poor sister on procuring my birth certificate in Warsaw, I receive a letter from SSI telling me that actually they need just a passport or a driver's license. I'm perplexed. What does a driver's license prove?

Well, I'm not taking chances. After breakfast...

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...I pack a folder with papers and head out to SSI. I don't understand so many of the nuances, rules and assurances of Medicare anyway, so I better come prepared. Being a former state employee makes the whole process of applying for this indispensable health care for seniors at once easier (if you just want to follow blindly and do what the state insurance fund tells you to do) or harder (if you actually want to try to comprehend how you fit into the Medicare quagmire of services, programs and particulars). I just want to not make mistakes, so I bring all the papers, duly collected, and wait.

The process of waiting is instructive. I mean, I wonder if Donald Trump has had to wait, or if SSI people came to him and if he had to pay a lot to get them up to Mar-a-Lago?

The people who wait at the regional offices are people with problems. You don't go to your SSI branch (they warn you: parking is limited!)  if you have access to online forms and if you aren't flagged as being a problem. Those who wait look like they've been doing a lot of waiting in life. It's really a sad place, but also one where everyone is patient. The room is quiet. A screen flashes news items that SSI has decided are pertinent to your well being. Did you know that the CDC would like to have a state of the art facility to study rare diseases? There is no WiFi. Most people don't have a smart phone in hand.

Two hours later, B13 flashes. I sit before my agent who tells me I needn't have come because I'm not applying for SSI benefits. She is wrong, of course, making her a third and unique version of what it is that I have to do to process my application. In the end she takes down info from my passport and tells me they simply needed proof I was a US citizen, which is funny since a driver's license (one of the document options, according to the letter) would not have given them that information.

From there, I go to the Apple store with my dead computer.

You'll have to wait -- I'm told. At least an hour. Go get a couple of coffee!
Is there a coffee shop nearby?
There will be soon...
Thank you.

I go to Macy's. (Our Apple store shares mall space with Macy's.) Snowdrop needs a spring sweater. Maybe I'll find it there?

After walking up and down the aisles, I conclude that this store should basically close. Clothing is scattered on the ground, and what's on the racks is out of order, with no eye to presentation. There is no one to help you and there's nothing in the children's section you'd want to buy anyway. Trust me on this.

Good bye, Macy's in Madison. You were once a very nice store.

I return to Apple and they tell me they'll have to send in my computer to their mega fix-it center. They don't even look at my machine. They just take it from me and ask if I'd backed up my data. I respond that I did not worry about a computer that is barely a couple of months old crashing and so no, I haven't done that yet.
Tsk tsk... We'll try, but it may not be possible to save anything.

I used to love you, Apple.

I ask: how many computers fail in the first few months?
Oh, not many. Only 10% fail in the first two years. (Ed later tells me that if Tormach's -- the company he oversees --  machine failure rate was that high they'd be out of business in a year.)

In the afternoon, I pick up Snowdrop.

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It's nearly 50F (10C) outside! Would you like to go to the park playground?
Would she ever!

Swinging once more!

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Stories told on the play structure.

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And back at the farmette, Ed has felled the tree!
The cheepers are perplexed.

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Snowman melts.

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Ed hauls branches to the wood pile.
Can I help?

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In the farmhouse now. Ed tempts her with a ballet Youtube clip...

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That's not Swan Lake! -- she complains. The girl has become smitten with dancing swans.
Can I please wear my ballet dress?

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Evening. Crazy busy recedes. I pick up my old, slow, but oh so trusty computer and write.