My Dad’s 90th Birthday celebration in Minneapolis was SPECTACULAR. Celebrating a life well-lived, and far from done. There was a bit of nostalgia, some well-meaning trash-talking and general festivity at a brunch hosted magnificently by Dad’s partner, Helen. Not much debauchery, though. The video here will probably embarrass him (all the more reason…) and might even make him cry. But it’s my Dad, and he’s the genuine, and unerringly unique (as he so eloquently states), article!
The quote he is reading is sometimes attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, but probably was first penned by DEAN ALFANGE in the 1950’s, who semi-stole it from Thomas Paine. It was adopted by the Board of Trustees of International Entrepreneurs’ Association (IEA) in the Mid-70’s — so appropriate to be read by Dad at His Occasion.
We had a chance, by happy calendar accident of concurrency with Dad’s Birthday Celebration, to see nephew Chet’s basketball team play in, and win the Minnesota High School 2A Championship. Not only that, Chet recorded a triple double, was the PLAYER OF THE GAME and on the All-Tournament Team. Chet is only a sophomore (and a 7’ one at that), so two more years of this, I would think! He is already being recruited heavily by D1 College teams. WAY TO GO, CHET!!!
We enjoyed the game with Nieces Aleah and Claire, and Claire’s service dog Slammer, who seems not as excited as the rest of us for Chet’s team.
You’ll also enjoy the picture we took of Liz and I with Chet and Claire. Our other niece, Alexandra, being a teen, was still sleeping at noon-ish so she did not make it into the frame.
Back to Chicago. We gain energy and pleasure from the pulse of a big city, beating all around us. Sirens. Restaurants. Rats. Subway Trains. We really NEED this every now and then!
Of course, the topper was…THE BEST BURRITO IN THE WORLD, which we previously suspected and now know to be true having been for months south of I-10! Other Chicago delicacies were also enjoyed – such as Hot Dogs (NEVER with Ketchup). And, Al’s Beef. Not like the Beef served to us in Texas.. but AWESOME in its own way!
Speaking of “true,” all that energy comes with the obligatory visit to various healthcare professionals. But after a few moments of angst, all is well and we are cleared for takeoff!
While we were “home,” the Cubs and the city and the neighborhood celebrated the Cubs Home Opener, and Wrigley field was shiny and sparkling.
Bars were open already at 7:30 AM, and it was nice of Budweiser to extend a warm and personal welcome to me!
Speaking of healthcare, I am enjoying the ongoing pleasure of managing my Mom’s medicare benefits. No political discussion forthcoming – just emphasis of our overall sad state of affairs…
The NEXT DAY, I got another DENIAL notice on this charge AND a check for the charge – IN THE SAME ENVELOPE.
There was one charge (in 20 pages of line items on a hospital bill including one pill to make her taller — $0.28 — and another to make her small — $0.56 — and one that didn’t do anything at all — $0.31—and NO ALICE TO ASK) for a drug that Medicare refused to pay for reasons I did not understand. The amount was big enough ($900!) for me to try to swallow the elephant. After HOURS on the phone over the course of several days trying to understand the “Denial” (which I never did) the last agent said, “What Denial. I show this charge as having been paid – YESTERDAY”. Which seems to have happened all by itself, because I had not even found a person, Alice or otherwise, to handle an appeal.
All of these statements and checks were coming by mail direct to our address in Chicago. Which is a problem, since we are NEVER HERE. They are supposed to go to my sister, who will scan and send them to me (and deposit any checks). I supposed they came from the Power-of-Attorney forms I had sent them, which they lost twice so would not even talk to me until I sent them a third time. When they finally received the POA and WOULD talk to me, I called Medicare and Bluecross and CVS Caremark, NONE OF WHOM could explain how they were sending stuff to me as my address was in none of their systems. Magic, I guess. Area 51 magnitude. AAAACCCCKKKKK.
Lest anyone think this PROVES Medicare is NOT a solution for our Health Care mess – managing PRIVATE healthcare is not a treat either. Some days better. Some days worse. Usually about the same, based on Liz’s experience as a Cancer Survivor. We deserve better than both, frankly. NO POLITICS in that statement, just fact.
We also had a chance to do some Dancin’. The Wednesday Night Class we attended for MANY years is still ongoing. Many of the same students. Some willing to chance being stepped on by me, for old times sake.
And, we even got to get glammed-up and go out for a formal evening at Town Club, where we talked and danced with friends, who are now nursing bruised toes. Rented a little subcompact for the excursion – Liz could have been confused for the Bond-Girl-du-jour but there is no way our Nissan Sentra could pass for an Aston Martin, or me for 007, even if viewed from a distance, in the dark!
Is someone opening an RV PARK in Chicago? As we were walking about the ‘hood, we noticed a construction site labeled, “Happy Camper.” We NATURALLY thought in wonderment that someone was building an RV Park. One that would be mere blocks from our apartment — WONDERFUL! MANY of our fellow Bluebirdbrains have offered us places to stay; a favour we have never been able to return since parking a bus on Magnolia is pretty much a silly thought. Maybe this would be a chance for us to do so; work out a deal?
But, alas, this turns out to be the VERY LAST THING Chicago Needs…another Pizza Parlour. There are already thousands, all of whom believe THEY are the best of the best (cuz we know Chicago Pizza is THE BEST). Why would you call a pizza parlour “Happy Camper?”
And while we are asking the BIG QUESTIONS, why are there no Urban RV Parks? There are MANY RVers – the category is growing by leaps and bounds to contain recent retirees AND mobile millenials – many of whom would patronize such places. We are NOT the “Trailer Trash” that many believe would move in and never leave. Hell, we got money (well, a little bit, anyway) and we know what to do with it!
We had a chance to participate in Chicago’s historic Mayoral Election. After which I am honestly and for the first time in a LONG TIME thinking there is SOME hope for our favorite city, whose fiscal and political situation, like the USA has become very fractious and fragile in recent years. I am hoping the election of a THOUGHTFUL Outsider will help (as opposed to a THOUGHTLESS Outsider… a few letters — and votes! — can indeed make a BIG difference).
In the days before the election, I was struck and VERY favorably impressed by our Mayor-elect’s debate performance. She actually ANSWERED QUESTIONS DIRECTLY and with supporting detail (vs. spouting pre-prepared talking points regardless of and unrelated to the question asked). I appreciated this refreshing and welcome change from most “Debates” (which are not) and voted accordingly, even though I do not necessarily agree with all her opinions. Amazingly, she not only answered questions, but WON in an absolute landslide! Apparently other voters enjoyed a candidate who answers direct questions instead of (only) slinging mud (or worse) at her oppoment.
Inspiration is out there (just well hidden, some days)!
Another Case in point: The Winning Candidate and the Losing Candidate in Chicago’s Mayoral Election were seen pledging mutual support AND hand-in-hand (not a photo-op in my opinion – for real!?). There is room for disagreement among THOUGHTFUL opponents. And for gracious winning AND Losing and then working together afterwards.
I Wonder how much would have gotten done and could get done if our recent Presidential Candidates and past-presidents (Collectively, frankly) had been “man enuf” to do the same?
And, if you need more inspiration, how ‘bout my supercalifragalisticexbialadocious (what other word can be used?) Great (in all respects) Aunt Marilee? She is a 106-year-young still-working artist in Washington D.C. We’ve featured her in our blog more than once…If you’d like to be inspired, listen to her recent interview by relative youngster (at 85) Ralph Nader. Marilee’s Autobiography: “Dancing in the Wonder for 102 Years” (she’s gonna need to update that volume with more years of more stuff!)
Drawing to the end of my thoughts, random or otherwise, we prepare to head back to the Bus, parked by the Max-Cave in Brock, Texas. Our course is plotted. Alaska, here we come! On the way, we’ve already been invited (or invited ourselves) to meals with friends in Santa Cruz, Menlo Park, Alamo, San Rafael and Berkeley, California; Eagle Creek and Hood River, Oregon and Vancouver and Victoria, BC. !!!
Had a brief discussion ONLINE with a New Bluebird owner, who contends that in order to be FULLTIME, one must tow a trailer for “stuff.” I contend that this is not true, and it is a Zen thing. Our small bus has PLENTY of room fer everything we need, but no room at all for anything we don’t. The Zen part is understanding which is which.
Liz, BTW, contends we are NOT “fulltime” because we still have our apartment in Chicago. I contend that since we are there for 3 weeks every 6 months AND I still look for the flush-pedal on the toilet when we are, we are definitely FULLTIME. What do YOU think about this?
Next post from the road!