Saturday, September 17, 2011

2011 - Year in Review (at least the first nine months!)

So I haven't blogged since January 1, 2011; New Year's Day. Rereading that post, I can say that I met my first goal: to finish the first three chapters. It just took a lot longer than I thought. I sent the first draft in with 130 pages in March. My chair sent it back with instructions to deepen each chapter - probably another 60 pages. It took a year to write those first 130 pages. I knew it would take another 6 months to write 60 more. It has! But it has been approved by my chair and I will defend this portion the end of the month. And I am pleased with how the chapters have developed. I will certainly not complete the dissertation in time to finish in 2011. BUT, definitely in 2012! By January I will know if I can finish in time to graduate during spring semester.

Other highlights in the last 9 months:
The major ice storm in January that kept us locked in our house for a solid week. No school. No swimming. No venturing out. No heat. No heat? That was simply coincidental that the heating system died the same week as the first day of the extreme cold. The temperatures never rose above 30 degrees. But since all the roads were iced, we could not get to the credit union for money to pay for a new heater, and the repairman had trouble getting around also. Wow! But we survived with space heaters, electric blankets, and we had heat upstairs. I got a LOT of writing done that week because there was nothing else to do!

Spring Break. Another storm. Only this time the power was out for 2 1/2 days. Now that was a problem for writing. So I ended up sitting out in the car, running, with my power adapter plugged in to the cigarette lighter so I could use my computer. Writing for the first three days done in the car.

Summer Vacation. Wow! This was the vacation of all vacations! We rode Amtrak from New Orleans to Los Angeles with Sylvia, Chase Isabelle, and Lilly. so-much-fun! Rebecca and Ernie and their four: Ernie, Nigel, Emmaline, and Max, met us in Los Angeles. We took pictures on the grounds of the Los Angeles LDS temple where John and I were married 37 years ago.

Then Disneyland! That will light up anyone's eyes! John and I rented electric scooters and kept up with everyone! Great fun!

Then Visalia. Home. Where I grew up. Dinner with my brothers, my sister and my mother, my children and grandchildren. So nice. Dave arrived to join us for the next 10 days.

Possibly my favorite part was the next three days spent in Kings Canyon National Park among the Giant Sequoias. So peaceful. So many memories. We camped here nearly every summer when I was a little girl. We took our kids camping here nearly every summer until we moved east. To see the eyes of our sons-in-law and our grandchildren! I loved that they loved what I have loved!

Then dinner in Fresno at my sister's "new" built-in-1920 house. Goodbye to Rebecca and Ernie and kids. The rest of us went to church with Mom the next day. She always loves to show us off! And I think we love it too.

Then to the cemetery. Grandma, Ahma, and Dad are all very near each other. (Grandma - my mother's mother; Ahma - my father's grandmother)

A day of shopping with my sister, then off to Monterey and San Francisco with Dave, Sylvia, and the kids. Monterey Bay Aquarium. An upscale hotel right on Union Square thanks to Dave, a ride on the trolley car, sour dough bread at Fisherman's Wharf. Dave flew home from SFO. We took the kids to the fabulous Egyptian museum in San Jose then back to Visalia.

The last day. My sister and I took Mom to the temple in Fresno. A remarkably spiritual experience for all of us.

Then back to Los Angeles and the train ride back to New Orleans. Memories to last a lifetime!

The rest of the summer: walking the track in the morning with friends; swimming in my friend's pool in the afternoons; writing, writing, writing in between all of this.

August - back to work. Only back to work with a broken ankle. First day, carrying my box of goods to the car slipped on the wet step. Broken. But I went to work with it wrapped in a soft brace thinking it was only a sprain. Of course, that was after I walked 5 laps around the track before I went to work. Silly me. The next day the x-ray showed a nice clean break. Hello boot.

September - still wearing the boot. But only another week now - that makes 8 weeks in total.

So that's the synopsis of the first nine months. There's much more. Like working at the temple in Atlanta every Friday night. That is a remarkable experience. And weighing in at Weight Watchers every Saturday with my new friend Rose Ann who works there and has a seventh grade son. I try to go in the afternoon when no one else is there so we have time to talk! 11 pounds down. 9 more to go. And teaching seventh graders who like me! They asked me to eat lunch at their table with them instead of eating at the faculty table. So I did!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Plans (not resolutions - those come later)

I have only one major goal for this new year of 2011 - finish the Ed.D degree that I started nearly five years ago. I have been in school the entire time John and I have been empty-nesters. He and I have given up a lot for me to do this. But, the end is in sight, and my goal is to reach the finish line. Because when this goal is reached, then I can begin to develop new goals for the rest of the year. (Although I already know the first one [a real resolution!] - lose the 20 lbs. that I have gained while working on this doctorate.)
Here's an update on the dissertation:
Chapter 1 is very nearly complete. 43 pages total
Chapter 2 has all the information, but needs some slight revisions. 37 pages
Chapter 3 has most of the foundation information. I still need to write the narrative that is to be included with this chapter. So far: 27 pages. Estimated total: 37 pages.
That makes a total of 117 pages plus there will be an additional 6 - 10 pages of references.
Timeline for finishing first three chapters:
1. finish slight revisions for chapter 2 - complete by Tuesday, Jan. 4
2. write narrative for chapter 3 - complete by Saturday, Jan 8
3. Edit and revise chapter 3 - complete by Monday, January 17.
4. Complete reference list by Saturday, January 22.
5. Mail first three chapters to dissertation chair (Marla Morris) for approval.
6. If needed, make further revisions by February 19.
7. Schedule defense for sometime in March; goal - have it defended before Spring Break the first week of April.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Reading my brother's blog about his lists for October inspired me. I love to make lists, and I really love checking off the items as they are completed. A list keeps me focused and totally motivated. John thinks that's a bit sick, but I can't help it. I am totally addicted because when I don't make a list, it doesn't get done. I have sticky notes everywhere, the Super Sticky ones, that I write on and then stick, knowing they will stay stuck. Those are the immediate goals. I keep monthly lists in a file on my computer. So now that I'm inspired, here's October.

October, 2010
Family (10+ hours)
o Write to Bradley each Monday night
o Have a date each Friday night with John
o Send birthday cards to Max, Natalie, Isabelle
o Be available to help Barry and Melanie as needed with the new baby

RCDP (2 hours)
o Organize the RCDP booth for the Conyers Olde Town Fall Festival
o Make a RCDP deposit
o Spend 1 hour organizing the RCDP books:
o New checks
o Old check stubs
o Check request forms
o Send Lisa membership information

Church (10 hours)
o Have FHE each Monday
o Choir
o Organize music for next few months
o Write in a harmony part for Children All Over the World
o Go Visiting Teaching
o Read scriptures each day

Dissertation (10 – 15 hours reading; 25 – 30 hours writing)
o Read:
o On Not Being Able to Paint
o Bipolar Expedition
o Opportunity House
o Bitter Milk
o Write
o Record quotes from each book
o Transcribe narrative into new story format
 Week of Oct. 4 – 4 pages
 Week of Oct. 11 – 4 pages
 Week of Oct. 18 – 4 pages
 Week of Oct. 25 – 4 pages
o Write new material
 Week of Oct. 4 – 4 pages
 Week of Oct. 11 – 4 pages
 Week of Oct. 25 – 4 pages

I keep another list at school with my work there. I feel better already since writing out this list!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In addition to my new rings, I had another piece of wonderful news on my birthday. Last January John was hospitalized with a hemorrhage. We filed the insurance and Medicare with the hospital. Usually, between the two, this covers the entire bill and we are left with no payment. In April, we received a bill stating that we owed the hospital $990.00. We had also received a Medicare summary stating that they had not paid, but we owed nothing. In May, when the hospital did not refile the Medicare and we got a phone call about the balance, I began a saga that lasted all summer. I called the hospital billing department. I called Medicare. They explained that the hospital had not filed properly and they needed to either refile the claim or call the Medicare provider line. I called the hospital back to tell them what Medicare said. They said they would not refile the claim – it had been filed once and would just be denied again. AND they said they could not call the provider line. I called Medicare back. They referred me to a supervisor who told me that the hospital had been sent an explanation letter in April and it was not their policy to call the hospital; the hospital would have to call them. So I called the hospital billing department again and conveyed the information Medicare had given me. Again, they refused to call or refile the claim. This continued all summer long, back and forth. I documented every phone call with date, time, and name of person I talked to. In the end, when the bill was going to be sent to collections, I called my Congressman’s office for help with the Medicare end of it, and I received a letter stating that they had opened a file for us with Medicare and would get back to us when it was resolved. In the meantime, we began to make payments in order to keep the account from going to collections. Then school started. My free time greatly diminished and I had not followed through until we received another bill in the mail.

On Monday, Sept. 20, I wrote a letter to the CEO of the hospital and requested that the hospital contact Medicare and that they refund the money we had already paid them since the issue had not been resolved satisfactorily. I included all my documentation, a copy of the Medicare summary, a copy of the bill, and a copy of the letter from our Congressman. I also made copies of everything for the hospital billing department and for the Congressman’s office. On Tuesday, Sept. 21, John mailed the letter to the CEO certified mail and the other two copies regular mail. We figured nothing would come of it, but at least we were following through and moving up the chain of command. Our next step was to call Bill Liss, a consumer advocate for one of the local news stations.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, my birthday, John received a phone call from the CEO’s secretary. It turns out that our letter had uncovered some improprieties that had occurred, and as a result the hospital would be reviewing their entire billing process and we would receive a detailed letter from the CEO next week along with a refund check.

Here’s what really happened:

Medicare paid our bill in April. The billing department was an outside business (it was actually a collection agency though they never reported that) that did work for the hospital. Somehow (from a person inside the hospital billing department?) they got our information , represented themselves as part of the hospital, harassed us by refusing to call Medicare and denying that the hospital ever received any communication from Medicare, and tried to collect what we did not owe.

So my diligence in documenting every conversation was noticed by the CEO and in the end we got the result we wanted. But what if I had not followed through? Someone was pocketing our money and probably many other people as well by trying to tell us Medicare would not pay. Think about the elderly (that does not include us!) who simply don’t have the resources or wherewithal to do the kind of documentation I did. Nonetheless, I was ecstatic that we were getting our money back and that some resolution was achieved! And maybe my experience as a private detective carried out every day in my classroom proved useful in another arena!

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Rings!

So much has happened since I last blogged, now that summer is over and I'm starting to catch up at school (since the first quarter is almost over) I will try to produce some new news. This week particularly has been interesting, but for now, I will start with today!

Yesterday( I'm really starting with today - just hear me out) was my 60th birthday, more on that later, so today we went shopping for my birthday gift. I decided what I really wanted was a new diamond, bigger than my original diamond, in a new setting with a new wedding band too. What occurred took me totally by surprise and was not at all what I had planned out in my head.

After dinner, John and I drove to the jewelry store just to look and start getting some ideas of what I might like. The man helping us showed us a number of rings and was very patient with all my questions. He cleaned my original diamond (it fell out of the setting 15 years ago and has been sitting in my drawer, sealed in an envelope, since then); weighed it, and evaluated it for color and clarity.

Then he brought out a diamond that he thought would be similar in color and clarity but was twice the size. $1665.00. My little diamond it turns out is extremely clear and has only one tiny inclusion. It so outshone the bigger diamond that was supposedly about the same quality!

At this point, my emotions, which had been edging their way in took over. It caught me off guard, that suddenly I did not want a new diamond. I wanted MY diamond, the one that John bought for me 36 1/2 years ago when we were young and thought we were in love - really, we were in love, but now we're REALLY in love. The diamond that was small but that had always been very brilliant and sparkly! And I didn't want a new wedding band either. I wanted MY wedding band; the one that says "Eternally Yours 7-26-1974". My engagement ring, though it could be salvaged even though it was worn so thin, would cost three times as much to reinforce it and stretch it as to buy a new one. So when he brought out the engagement ring, almost identical to my original one, but new and beautiful, I was smitten and giddy! My diamond looked beautiful in the 6 prong setting (my original setting was 4 prongs).

Then, we looked at stretching John's ring to fit his finger. Unfortunately, it couldn't be stretched as much as his needed to be. So he is getting a brand new ring. It looks the same as the original one, except it is more comfortable to wear because it has rounded edges and more gold in it.

Monday, after school, we will drive back to the jewelry store and pick up our "new" rings and once again look the part of a married couple! I guess I need to get a manicure so we can take pictures and I can post them!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Over the last three months I have painted my bedroom, ordered a new bedspread ( a real bedspread that reaches the floor and doesn’t need a bed skirt) found a quilt to fold at the bottom and matching pillow shams.  I love the paint color – when Bradley was scraping the window trim he ran across the color of blue I was looking for.  So I took the chip to my favorite paint store – Cowan Ace Hardware  (their grandfather built our house in 1937 – Conyers old-timers call our house the Cowan house).  Eli Cowan is a master at paint – he was able to color match it perfectly, so now my room has a truly vintage look just because of the paint!  I really like it!  It’s soothing and helps me calm down at night.  Here are a couple of pictures.  I still need to put stuff on the walls.  That will come later.  Oh – and it really needs some throw pillows.  The photos made that very obvious to me!  And, it would be really nice to have a bedroom set.  That’s working its way up on my priorities!

Mississippi Trip April 2010 001       Mississippi Trip April 2010 004

Mississippi Trip April 2010 002

Friday, April 30, 2010

My New BFF Store

John hates clothes shopping, and he’s difficult to find clothes that fit well and look nice on him.  Hence, he had been wearing khakis with a white shirt and tie to church for several months.  Finally,  in December it could not be procrastinated any longer.  He desperately needed a suit – his other one, like many of my clothes, had shrunk.  So we started at a discount suit store in Stone Mountain where we had gotten some good deals previously.  Nothing in John’s size.  We tossed around a couple of other ideas, then decided to try Men’s Wearhouse.   I really didn’t think they carried anything in his size, but it was worth a try.  To our pleasant surprise, in less than an hour , we had picked out two suits, three ties, alterations had been measured and we were on our way home.

Last weekend was the annual Rockdale County Democratic Party Gala – a well-attended black-tie affair.  John needed something to wear.  Men’s Wearhouse to the rescue again in less than an hour.  Actually about 30 minutes this time.  We bought a tux shirt with tucks (a little play on words there!) with a silk bow tie and matching cummerbund.  He wore them with his dark suit and it looked great!  Unfortunately, no pictures :(  Maybe next time.