2019 It was a (mostly) Very Good Year

2019   It was a (mostly) Very Good Year

As 2019 ends, and 2020 approaches, I have to say that it was a pretty fine year for our little family (Me, Hubby, and Kitty).  There were no disasters, no serious illnesses, only a few bumps in the road.  Our Country has been wracked and torn by the disgusting DemocRATS impeaching President Trump, but he has not let it stop him from governing well in the meantime.

Month by Month…

January

Not much going on in January.  Early in the month, we went to the Seattle Athletic Club, where Hubby plays squash, to watch exhibition matches with some professional players. Some of it was good fun, as world-renowned players played doubles on the big, glass court.  They were intentionally tripping over each other, missing shots, and getting in some good laughs.

Doubles

Singles…

SquashMatch

If you have never watched a real professional squash match, I urge you to go over to your favorite video site and search on pro squash.  They are very exciting and fast-paced.

February:

February was a busy month for us.  Early in the month, we got some snow up in our home of Everett, Washington (not that common an occurrence), and our backyard looked like a winter wonderland for awhile.  Our local birds were happy to take advantage of our seed and suet feeders.  Here’s one of our Varied Thrushes.

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Later in the month, we went down to Southern California for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, which has already been documented here on Calling-all-RushBabes.  It was a wonderful trip, and we were thrilled to be able to meet some well-known Conservatives.  We also confirmed that we will be endowing a Hillsdale scholarship.  From this year on, all of our donations will be credited to our scholarship (for a music student).  We are pleased as punch to be able to do this.

My Age started to affect things this year, as in October I turned 70-1/2, which means I have to start taking Required Minimum Distributions from my Traditional IRA account. My account is with Vanguard, and they do make it very simple to set them up.  I had decided a while ago to dedicate that money to Hillsdale donations, and I did that in May and November this year.  Of course, the College was happy to receive the donations, and they will fund our endowed scholarship.

March:

March was a pretty uneventful month, with no big trips or happenings.  We did drive up to the Skagit Valley to see the scenery.  It was too early for the tulips, but the daffodils were already blooming. It’s only about an hour drive from our house, so we make the trip often.

Mar-Daffodils

April:

April, on the other hand, was full of interesting happenings.  For a few months, we had been noticing that our water bills had been increasing, and we didn’t know why.  Well, we finally called a plumber, and they discovered that we had a broken water pipe in our front yard that was making a lake near the side of our house!  So, on a rainy day, they came out, dug up the yard, and discovered the broken pipe.

BrokenPipe-Apr

See the bend in the pipe (vertical)?  Here is what the yard looked like:

BigHole-Apr

However, when he was through, the plumber replaced the dirt and sod, and the yard looked almost untouched.  We were grateful.

I turned 70 years old this year!  I don’t feel that old, and I’m still working more than full-time and liking it.  And, as a 70th birthday present to myself, I purchased my very first smartphone, an iPhone 10R.  I am liking it a lot, especially the camera.  It takes wonderful video, and it’s now my primary video recorder.

April is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and we went back up there to see the flowers.

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May:

In May, I took my solo trip to the Olympic Peninsula, also already documented here.  It was a great time to get away and unwind from all the stress at work. [I just looked at my final paycheck for the year, and I worked 383 hours of overtime in 2019!]  I got some excellent photos, and enjoyed the relaxation.

June:

In June, as usual we went to Leavenworth for the Accordion Celebration.  Leavenworth never changes much, and the music was fun, and the kids cute, as usual.  We love the drive there, too.

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July:

In July, we again took a day trip up the North Cascades Highway, to the Diablo Overlook.  That is always a fun drive, and we still marvel at the blue-green water in the glacial-fed lake.

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At the end of the month, for the finale of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, I got to play with the Festival musicians at the Outdoor Concert.  It was a thrill to play with Amy Schwartz Moretti in the Second Violin section, playing the Elgar Serenade for Strings.

Violins-SCMFJul

August:

In August, we went to a party at my cousin’s house, to celebrate the birthday of his son’s daughter.  We had not seen the son in many years, and had never met his wife.  It was a nice party, attended by my sister, my nephew, and my great-niece too.  Later, we took another fun trip down to Tumwater Falls Park in Olympia.  That park never loses its fascination for us, and I understand why that was one of Hubby’s favorite places before we knew each other.

TumwaterFalls

September:

September was another busy month for me.  We took a trip to the Puyallup Fair, which I already documented here with numerous pictures.  Even at our advanced age, we love going to the fair!

Later, I had a very pleasant dinner with my sister, and our cousin from Portland.  When I thought about it, I had not seen her for over twenty years!  It was wonderful to get caught up on what we had all been doing for such a long time.  I sure hope it won’t be another 20 years until we see each other again.

At the end of the month, I went, with my violin, to the 30th Anniversary celebration for Music Center of the Northwest.  I was on the original Board of that community music school in Seattle, and it was fun to catch up with all the former board members, and hear about what had been going on at the center.  They also scheduled a reunion of Hildman Strings, the string orchestra whose leader was the driving force behind Music Center.  We played together again, and didn’t do too badly for a pickup group!

October:

October was a momentous month for us.  For the first week, we flew back to Michigan for the 175th Anniversary celebration at Hillsdale College (see my post).  They dedicated the new Christ Chapel, and we got to hear Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speak at the dedication ceremony.

We also celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in October, with a nice dinner at the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle.  I just had to take a picture of a page in the menu, describing the various varieties of Wagyu beef they serve there.  Having seen a picture of a slab of Wagyu, I certainly would not be interested in eating any, since it looks like it’s at least 50% fat!

Oct-Meat with your fat?

Just look at those prices!

November:

In November, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving since our marriage, alone.  I have been basically drummed out of the family, based on the content here on my blog that my sister objects to.  So we went to a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Bellevue, and didn’t have to worry about saying anything that would offend anyone.

And we made our excursion to Snoqualmie Falls, that I have already documented here.

December:

I made a momentous decision in December, after I received a letter from my long-term-care insurance carrier.  The letter informed me that, if I did nothing, my insurance premium would be increasing in January by 40%, and would go up by an additional 150% in the next five years.  Well, that was the last straw.  I decided that this would be throwing good money after bad, so I basically canceled my policy.  The money that I have already paid in premiums (over $30,000) would still be there for me to draw on if necessary, but I will be paying no additional premiums.  I made the decision to take the money I would have paid in premiums, and invest that money in my own account, to earn dividends until needed.

Hubby and I had a very much Christmas dinner at home.  I made a boneless rib roast, and he made garlic mashed potatoes.  We had a nice salad, and apple pie for dessert.  I even got out the good china and Grandma’s silver plate.  Here’s our table:

ChristmasTable

The day after Christmas, we did the University Unitarian Church full-length sing-along, play-along Messiah.  I played first violin, and Hubby sang.  It was wonderful, as always.  This year was the fiftieth year the church has been doing this, so the conductor appeared as the Composer!  Cute, but she said the getup was really hot!

Karen-Handel

The remodeled sanctuary was beautiful, and we got nice padded chairs!  The choir sang very well, and we in the orchestra were proud to be playing for them. It was a great ending to a good year. Oh, one more thing…  This is a Unitarian Church, which is as far Left as you can possibly be and still be a religion.  Here is a sign outside the rest room.

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We are both in aerospace, and get the time between Christmas and New Years off.  This year, we saw three movies in our weeks off.  We saw the new Star Wars movie, Richard Jewell, and Ford Vs. Ferrari.  That’s more movies than we normally see in six months!  And we enjoyed them all.

Also this year, we followed the case of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which was grounded for much of the year, after two fatal crashes in Asia and Africa.  This incident brought opprobrium to Hubby’s employer, and my company’s biggest customer, and we winced every time new bad news was received.  This issue will carry into the new year of 2020, and promises to be uncomfortable for everyone.

Now, as the old year winds down, I would like to express gratitude for all the good things that have come our way this year.  I earned a very nice salary, was able to put away a rather large sum in my retirement accounts, and benefited from a rising stock market all year.  Hubby and I have been healthy, except for my cancer scare (also documented here) in the fall.  We are incredibly fortunate not to have had any major problems this year, and we thank God for our lives, and our friends, and our colleagues.   We are big supporters of our President Donald Trump, and wish him and his family a good new year.  I would also like to thank all of my loyal followers and commenters, here on my blog.

Onward to 2020!  Happy New Year to all!

A Bullet Dodged: Thanks Given

Ferry-wake

RushBabe dodged a bullet recently.  I had a health scare, which started in June with an itchy place on one shoulder.  Where it started was easy to remember, since it took place on the street in Leavenworth, when Hubby and I were there in June for the International Accordion Celebration. Gradually, that itchy place took on the appearance of a blood-blister.  It was a red, spongy blister-like thing, and it sometimes itched a lot.  It didn’t worry me too much, since I assumed that it was the result of a bug bite (quote common in the mountains of Washington State).

It didn’t go away, and it sometimes interfered with my bra strap.  So, I decided to make an appointment with my personal doctor, to see if she could lance it (drain it) and make it go away.  She agreed to see me, and I went to her office.  She did poke it, and drained off some blood.  She gave me a big bandage to wear for a while, and I went home.  Well, that thing didn’t go away.  So I went back, and she took a big piece of it and sent it to her lab just to see what was inside.  This time, she had to put in some stitches.  Again, I went home with a bandage on.  When the lab results came back, I went back to have the stitches out and get the results.  The lab found some Lymphocytes, but nothing definitive.  And the darn thing still came back.

So, next step was to make an appointment with a dermatologist.  I did that, and went in for an exam.  The Dermatology Doctor read the lab report from my doctor, and she looked worried.  So, she took another big biopsy sample, and sent me home with some more stitches.  And something about T-Cell Lymphoma.  Oh, and she also told me not to do any “internet research”, since I might not get the right information that way.  I took her advice.

About a week later, she called me on the phone, and asked me to come in.  It turned out that they found two different kinds of T-Cells in my sample, and I might have a lymphoma, though she wasn’t very informative about what that might mean. [OBTW, that lesion on my shoulder had mostly gone away-maybe the big biopsy sample scared it!]  She asked me if I would approve her sending my sample for evaluation to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which works with the University of Washington.  I told her to go ahead.

So, yesterday I braved the I-5 freeway at morning rush hour, to visit the SCCA and speak with a Dermatological Oncologist there.  It took me an hour and a half to drive the 25 miles in to Seattle.  The office was on the fourth floor of their building in the South Lake Union neighborhood, and had a gorgeous view of the lake.  I spoke with two doctors, one an Internal Medicine Resident, and one a Dermatological Oncologist.  They had had time to look at all my records, and the bottom line was, I probably did not have a Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma, but  “Pseudo-lymphoma”.  Weird, but I was happy to hear it.  They did order a complete blood count, just to make sure.  On the way out, I went to the Lab, and had a big blood sample drawn.  The crowd waiting in the lab area was large, but I only had to wait a few minutes.  While waiting, I was internally giving thanks that my health scare was probably just that, a scare.  And I was impressed by the mood of all the patients waiting for lab work.  I could see that many of them obviously had cancer, but they all looked pretty optimistic, and all the staff were very encouraging.

I suppose when you get to be 70 years old, you begin to think that your time left is shortening.  This incident really brought it home for me.  I thought about all the things that I might need to get done in a short amount of time.  And I gave thanks for being pretty healthy for an old lady.  I almost never get sick, and I don’t remember the time when I last called in sick to work.  Geez, I’m still working more than full-time!

So this Thanksgiving, I will really have something to be thankful for.  My life, my Hubby, my Kitty, my job, my friends.  And I especially am thankful for being born in America.  If I really had had cancer, there is no better place to be than the Seattle area, with all its health care resources. We really do have the world’s best medical system here in America, and I hope that we will never be subjected to the “socialized” system like in Europe, where outcomes are never as good as they are here.  I never take things for granted, and I thank God that I can still be a productive member of society.  I’m thankful for all of my followers and readers on my blog (and the Freedom of Speech that allows me to express myself without being censored), and I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving this year.

 

 

Not My Idea of Freedom

MedicareAd

This ad appeared in one of the emails I get from a conservative Web site.  My readers know I’m intending upon never going on the public dole (including Social Security and Medicare).  Freedom?  Medicare is supposed to be Freedom?

To my way of thinking, Medicare brings these conditions with it:

Medical treatment confined to “What Medicare Will Pay For”.

Being denied needed treatment recommended by your physician, because a bureaucrat in Washington D.C deems it “not medically necessary”.

Not being able to see your longtime physician, because he or she does not accept Medicare (doctors who see Medicare patients are not allowed to turn down any patient, thus being denied their freedom).

You become a line item on the Federal Budget, not a human being.

Your doctor having to get permission from the federal bureaucracy before he can treat you.

Nope, not my idea of Freedom.

(WA Governor) Jay Inslee wants more oversight over Private Psychiatric Hospitals

He does, does he?  It seems that the Seattle Times did a story about all the “incidents” at private psychiatric institutions in Washington. Sorry, no link here due to paywall at the Times web site.  How quickly they forget.  Just recently, there were many stories of the horrific conditions at the State of Washington psychiatric institution, Western State Hospital.

WesternState

That institution lost its Federal accreditation, due to less-than-stellar conditions there.  There have been inmate escapes, staffing shortages, and lawsuits due to mistreatment of patients.

EscapeFrom WSH

Maybe, Jay Inslee should try getting his own house in order, before going after the private institutions.

I prefer not to be a participant in others’ delusions.

The first Delusion in which I do not participate is the delusion of “man-made climate change”, and the corollaries that demand that we abandon the benefits of plastic items like grocery bags and straws.  It makes me angry when the all-powerful Government decides for me which light bulbs I must use (and no longer may use), and insists that I from now on “bring my own reusable bag” to the grocery store, since it is banning retail stores from providing plastic bags to their customers.  This came in my utility bill recently.

ReusableBag

The worst part of this is that the Government is Requiring retail establishments to charge a FEE for providing paper bags!  This is so ridiculous!  So, what does the retail establishment do with all the fees they collect?  Are they required to remit those funds to the City Government?  This flyer does not say.  I hope they do not have to.

In any case, I refuse to participate in their delusion that banning plastic bags will help “save the planet”, since the Planet is not in need of saving.  And, just in case they need to know, I re-use lightweight plastic bags to take out my home trash, so every bag gets re-used.  I have purchased a big box of lightweight plastic bags, which I will use at my grocery store, every time I shop in the city (which I will try my best to avoid in the future).  If they think they can prevent me from using lightweight plastic bags, they are sorely mistaken.  Maybe they should train their sights on the real culprits responsible for all the plastic waste in the oceans…Asia.  Asian countries put thousands of times more plastic waste into the oceans than the United States does.  Go ban bags there!

The second delusion in which I refuse to participate is that someone born Male can decide that he is really Female, and must have his God-given body altered.  The so-called “gender dysphoria” syndrome (funny, it’s so newly-popular) is a Mental Illness, and cannot be treated with surgery.  Just check out the statistics on suicide by “trans-gender” people who have had that bizarre surgery.  Near 40%!! It is plain to the eye and the mind that a person born with two X chromosomes is Female, and someone born with one X and one Y chromosome is Male.  Removing the male body parts does NOT make a person Female.  So I refuse to call the admin at my place of employment by His chosen new female name.  And HE had better keep out of MY Women’s bathroom.

Non-Civilization in our Civilized Country

Did you know that there are pockets of “non-civilization” within our civilized United States?  And we host them, and encourage them to continue to be not-civilized.  We spend significant federal dollars on maintenance of these pockets of non-civilization. Those pockets of non-civilization are called Indian Reservations, and they are everywhere in the United States.  One of the main definitions of civilization is people giving their allegiance to a Nation-State instead of a clan or tribe.  Out of guilt for the way the early Americans treated the natives of North America, we continue to support their tribes, when we should be urging them to get civilized, and join America.

If it were up to me, this is what I would do.  I would give the descendants of the original inhabitants of North America two choices.  First, they could choose to become sovereign nations within the boundaries of their Reservations.  Each tribe would be given title to the land on its reservations, and to no other land.  If the Cherokee wished to be the Nation of Cherokee, they would have all their reservation land for themselves.  The US Treasury would also give the Tribe all the money currently held in trust for them, recognizing that they are fully-capable adult human beings, and should be able to look after themselves and their families without the Big Brother Uncle Sam doling out the money and services.  All services currently provided by Uncle Sam (like the Indian Health Service, schools, etc.) would then become the responsibility of the Tribal Government.  Within their own sovereign territory, they would be able to have their own police, schools, banks, and public services.  They would continue to own and operate any casinos or other retail businesses for themselves, and keep all the profits therefrom for their Tribal members.  They would have no future call on the taxpayers of the United States for any goods or services in their own country.  And they would have the responsibility to take care of their own people, and would never be able to blame any other entity for their problems.

The second alternative would be for all Indian Tribes to be immediately disbanded, and reservations done away with.  All the money currently held in trust by the United States, and all reservation land would be divided up among all tribal members.  All Native Americans would become full US Citizens, with no allegiance to any entity other than the United States of America.  Old Tribes would simply become social clubs, where tribal members could celebrate their heritage in any legal way they wished.  Tribal property like casinos and commercial land would also be divided up among the current owners, and they would become independent businesses, subject to the rules of the area in which they operated.  All businesses would be subject to the tax and laws of their respective jurisdictions, as would individuals.  Without the tribe to hold their allegiance, Native Americans would be able to become truly civilized.

Do I think this could ever happen?  Probably not!  But it’s been over 150 years since the Europeans conquered the Natives, and it’s time they surrendered.  They just might find it a pretty good deal to become real US Citizens instead of pockets of non-civilization in our very civilized country.

You can’t spell Democrats without…

You can’t spell Democrats without…

Rats.  Those wily little rodents are much in the news lately, after our President took jabs at Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings who represents Baltimore.  It seems that more than one news outlet in that area has done stories, and documentaries describing the rat-infestation problems in Baltimore.  It is well-known that rats follow humans wherever they go, or live, and have been since time immemorial (probably since humans settled down in towns and engaged in agriculture).  Cities with endemic poverty, like Baltimore, have more rats than other places.

New York City has its own rat problem, in various neighborhoods, says a story in Pravda on the Hudson (hat tip, Prof. Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College), better known as the New York Times.

Los Angeles is also home to an excess of rats, who have brought with them ancient diseases like Typhus, that have not been seen in America in over a century.

Even Austin, Texas has its own rat infestation.

Seattle, which has one of the largest homeless populations in the US, is plagued by new infestations of rats, which like the abundant trash they can find in the homeless camps scattered around the formerly-beautiful city.

And what do all the cities mentioned above have in common?  They have been run for decades by, you guessed it, DemocRATS.

‘Nuff Said.