Tag Archives: Medicare Part B

The bonehead and another fishless trip …


What was it that Forrest Gump said? If memory serves me it was ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’

I can relate.

And don’t ask why I mention a recovery period twice and in two different manners. Letter writing must not be an exact science. But refer again to the Gump quote.


April 10, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Sometimes your dad is just a complete bonehead, and last night was one of those all-too-frequent times. Sondra and Jody invited me to watch the final round of the Masters with them, and when I was leaving and with a clear head after only a couple of glasses of wine, your knucklehead of a father inadvertently backed his car into a tree, giving his left rear bumper a good indentation even though the car was hardly moving. What an idiot, moron, klutz. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s just so irritating. Geez.

Well, knock on wood, but the Medicare thing has at long last moved through the pipeline. Finally, my Part B insurance is restored and the surgery is scheduled for this Friday morning at 9:00. That would give me ample time to heal completely (about six weeks to full activity) and still get in adequate shape for the Bridger Wilderness. Man, this whole process has taken a long time. The Social Security and Medicare systems are just big bureaus that move at their own pace. They’ve got tens of millions of ‘customers’ and it just takes a while to move through the snake. I’ll keep you posted on how Friday goes down.

Since the surgery appears to be set in stone, I’ll celebrate with a final short trip to Charleston to put the boat in the water and fish since it would be my final time on the water for quite a few weeks (4 – 6 according to the hernia literature). Miss Emma and I journeyed down last week and snagged a few nice black drum toward the end of the day so it wasn’t a total bust. There was kind of a different ending to the excursion, however. As is my custom, I gave one of the big drum to one of the black oystermen, and he in turn gave me 25 lbs. of what they call South Carolina oyster clusters.

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Not even a picturesque and fully-rigged Miss Emma could bring her handler any good fish karma on a beautiful day outside Charleston. Skunked again.

Since the fish need to go on ice, my routine is to stop at a nearby gas station for a 10 lb. bag of ice. When I pulled in there was a guy parked near me with what appeared to be a full load of beer in the open hatch of his SUV. I made an offhand comment as I walked by that ‘I need one of those,’ referring to the numerous six packs and cases in plain view. As I got to the car, he said ‘what do you drink?’ I said ‘anything’ and he proceeded to walk over a six pack of IPA. After we shook hands and exchanged ‘thank yous,’ as he turned away I told him to hold on a minute: ‘Do you like oysters?’ and he replied ‘you bet.’ I opened Camry’s trunk and handed over the bag of fresh clusters, in what seemed like a pretty fair trade for both sides. In turn, he gave me even more beer since he worked for Stone Brewery. The two six packs and another separate large bottle of amber ale when into the trunk and off I went. It’s never dull down there in terms of the people one meets. That’s what’s so very fun about the whole down-and-back thing. I’ll miss it immensely during the rehab.

The idea of a book continues to gel. It’s gaining a critical mass. I dream about it, think about it and on occasion talk to myself about it. Some of that owes to the TED Talks inquiry. The specter of that made me put two and two together and begin to consider how this narrative might go down. Since there won’t be any heavy lifting or golf or walking or fishing or YMCA perhaps there will be ample time to built in at a coffee shop to sit comfortably in loose clothing and write, of which I make scarcely enough time for anyway. I write for you two and a few others and that’s about the extent of it. My mentor, a guy named Don whom both of you met when you were toddlers, is a very successful author of journalism books and he might be willing to lend an ear and grace me with his advice. He and I just reconnected and my intent is to ask him.

Okay, you two. Over and out. I’m off to the store and to contemplate bird feeders for the birthday girls. Two will be sent in short order.

Love, Dad

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Teens once, now Masters of all they survey …


It’s sometimes hard to believe this exercise in letter writing began when Ellen and Reid were in their teens and scarcely in college; now, they have both earned Masters degrees – leaving their mom and dad in the educational dust. 

It’s a testament to each of their stick-to-it-ive-ness that they plowed ahead with their education. I logged 24 hours toward a Masters in Journalism in the 1970s but to this day still marvel at the lack of brainpower to finish it out (a move to a new city had something to do with it). But such dereliction can’t be said for my two. They got it done.


April 4, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Wow, now we have two adults in the family with masters degrees. Kind of puts your mom and I between a rock and a hard place education-wise. We are the laggards but are so proud of the two of you. Your degrees will pay off in the near and long terms. It never really crossed my mind that either of you would ever pursue an advanced education but you’ve gone above and beyond – and then some. My idea of higher ed is just reading the newspaper. We’ve got to figure out how to celebrate things the right way (which probably means some sort of wine or premium beer). Pick your poison. You’ve earned it.

Reid, I like the idea that you are looking at environmental careers. That’s good. I hope you can comb through that list of Chicago area organizations and non-profits. There is something to be said, too, for volunteering as a way to meet/network with other professionals. It will also pay off in the near and long terms. It will. Now if we can keep our anti-environmental kook out of the way. He’s just such a nothing loser. I swear he’s composing his tweets on the shitter.

This isn’t said lightly but I’m becoming something of an expert on Medicare. Or at least not how to go about it. But the knowledge has come the hard way: through the school of hard knocks – and phone calls. It’s still farcical in that there is no significant progress. I’m not really closer now to a Part B (medical coverage) than I was five months ago. All the conversations I’ve had boil down to this advice: wait. But there was something of a breakthrough on the phone to Social Security this morning. The agent (he had 38 years of experience) said my reinstatement is indeed in the works. I have passed what he called ‘screening’ which is apparently the moment when they open my paperwork and decide to move forward. Now the new Part B card is in process and could be mailed within the next month. It doesn’t sound like much advancement but it is coming. I’ve learned little smidgens of info on each call and have kept really good notes. Honestly, with the exception of one dismissive person I personally met who couldn’t care less about me and never even glanced at my documentation, every Social Security person I’ve talked to has been ever so helpful. Moreso, I dare say, not so much with Medicare. My condition has not, knock on wood, gotten worse so I hope to stick it out. But man, it’s getting old. It has truly been all-consuming. It’s on my mind 24/7.

So if it is indeed the case that it is nearly case closed, I’ll celebrate by going fishing tomorrow. My neighbor Dan helped me load Miss Emma atop the car and I don’t seem the worse for lifting my share of the load. The putrid and abhorrently stinky bait is thawing in the garage. Maybe the reds and black drums will like it. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the road together and it will be good to hit the highway as early as I can muster the energy to get up and going, all the while bolstered by stiff black coffee.

Had a nice photo freelance gig on Sunday at a big Presbyterian church in Uptown. Here is what’s truly wild: the speaker, a Peabody Award winner and New York Times best selling author, Krista Tippett, knew Tom Kigin and Liz. That was so wild.

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I hadn’t done a freelance photo gig in a long time … but this one was fun and when you do creative work, it keeps the juices flowing.

Here we were in a photo up in what was basically a green room before she spoke, and we’re talking about Minnesota. She lives in the Twin Cities. She was really good, and the job was fun. Reid, I have to upgrade my mid-range Nikon Coolpix to something beefier and better. Has to have a strong flash and both manual and auto focus. Any suggestions on that for me?

Okay guys, put those fancy, schmancy degrees to good use. As for my higher education, I’m content to pick up what I can while reading the paper.

Love, Dad

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Eating like kings … playing golf like a dog


The long-awaited trip to Florida with my Iowa buddies – Bob and the two other Daves – came and went too quickly. Ellen and Reid have read regularly about these annual golf/foodie extravaganzas with my friends they know well.

The high point was in the kitchen and the table. Meal after meal, we ate like nobody’s business. Golf was another issue. I ate like a king but played like a dog. Some weeks that’s the best you’ve got.


March 8, 2017

Ellen/Reid: If you gauge the trek to Florida only on the fishing experience, it was a complete and total bust. The offshore winds were so high that no boats – not even the 50+ footers – left their berths. All the rods that made the trip never saw the deeper open ocean waters. I’m glad Miss Emma didn’t make the trip. She would never have left the roof of the Camry. But that’s not how you ought to look at such a trip. It was really fun and relaxing. Dave H. is such a good host to share his nice home with us and it appears we may be repeat visitors because the Deerfield Beach locale offers just about everything we need; fishing (when the wind lays down), golf (across the street) and plenty of good food. We ate like literal kings.

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Mike LaValle can flat-out bring it to the kitchen. He is a chef’s chef. He turned everyday ingredients into gourmet meals. (Left to right: Bob Furstenau, Dave Dahlquist, Mike and Dave Hemminger.)

A new addition to our group, Mike LaValle, is a chef extraordinaire. He has a sterling reputation in Des Moines and has had a number of solid, successful restaurants. He honestly can whip up an incredible meal with ingredients on hand. He raided Dave’s cupboards for available spices and I’m telling you, give the guy a stick of butter, some heavy cream, olive oil, some garlic and any sort of vegetable and you will get a five star meal. He cooked some whole red snapper like no fish I’ve ever had. He allowed me to observe as his sous chef (I was an awestruck bystander for the most part) and once he does his magic, viola, you have one helluva culinary experience.

The golf was another matter entirely. I just ran out of oomph through our second round. Just can’t keep things together. Dave Dahlquist was my partner and I completely let him down. Dave H. and Bob Furstenau just took us to the cleaners.

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The Champions Course at PGA National ate my lunch – and put my head on the platter.

The courses were great but somewhat over my head. I’ll give it to Florida; the state has some nice golf and a lot of it. It’s wonderful to be around those guys for a few days. They’re all creative in their own sense.

The drive down was something else. It was 10 hours of pedal-to-the-metal stress each way down and back. If you’re not gunning it at 75-80 MPH you might as well be in the right hand lane with your flashers on. And the traffic was so heavy. Luckily, there were no notable accidents that brought the lines of cars to a stop. If that had happened, I’d still be on the road. The driving is cathartic in a way, however, in that you just get a big cup of coffee, turn on the tunes and hit the road. Not a bad recipe and beats a plane in some respects.

The big task today is to break the news to my Realtor, Scott, that the home will be taken off the market. He’s sure to be Continue reading

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