Archive for August, 2013

Just exactly how much of what was I saving?

Yesterday I went to the doctor for my annual exam.  It’s not an especially fun event, but I do have a really nice doctor that I like, I never have to wait more than five minutes in her waiting or exam rooms, she’s a Christian, and the massive medical system she’s a part of still allows her to give me a 30% discount because I’m a self-pay (uninsured) patient.

There are always four components to an annual exam:

1.  The nurse weighs me (down 10 pounds from last year!), checks my blood pressure (122/70!), counts my respirations (I do breathe regularly), and records my pulse/ox.  She then goes through the whole list of my meds and asks which ones I’m still taking.

2.  The doctor comes in and asks me a few questions and I tell her which prescriptions I need refilled.

3.  Like the Peach, the doctor exits the scene, I garb myself in one of those woefully inadequate hospital gowns, and the she returns and does three exams:

~ the eyes, ears, nose, throat, heart, lungs stuff

~ the breast exam

~ the pelvic exam and pap smear

4.  I then ask the doctor any questions I have and she answers them.  (I always dress before paying and departing the premises.)

This time, when we got to #2, Doctor Gordin said, “When was your last pap?”

“Last year.”

“Well, since it was normal, you can go to every two years now.”

HOORAY!!!  (That must be one of aging’s fringe benefits.)  So, it was a happy day.  I only had to endure half of the usual undressing and none of the pesky poking and prodding.  And the fact that I was out of there by 8:50 AM was an added bonus.

My annual exam is pricey.  The doctor’s fee (set by Mercy Clinics) is $214 this year.  The lab work usually runs close to $300, and then there’s the mammogram with its multiple fees.  I think that one pushes $400 or so, all together.  As I said, Mercy lets Dr. Gordin discount my doctor’s fee, so I paid about $150 for that, but there are no discounts on lab work through Mercy.

A few years ago, our AWESOME family doctor, Dr. Kym, and her husband (internal medicine doc, Dr. Chris), who had been in practice with Mercy (then St. John’s) here in Branson for nine years, got so fed of with Mercy and their system that they resigned and ended up moving to Florida, where they have subsequently set up a cash pay office.  I’m not sure how they do it, but they take NO insurance of any kind, and they see patients for a flat $50 fee, no matter what.  I have admired their gumption.

Now, with all the government and insurance and big medicine mess, some entrepreneurial types have come up with a similar provision for lab work.  There exists in the U.S. (or at least in parts of it) a franchise of cash-pay labs called AnyLabTestNow, and one of those labs is in Springfield.  Dr. Gordin has been giving her self-pay patients the option of having their lab work done at the Mercy Clinc for Mercy’s price, or at AnyLabTestNow for about 40% of Mercy’s price.

I am no fool.  I said I’d go to AnyLab.

I have to be fasting for my bloodwork, and my usual ritual is to go to the doctor, have the exam, step into the next room for the blood-letting, and then drive myself directly to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin.  Yes, I know what an Egg McMuffin does to one’s cholesterol, but I like to celebrate after an annual exam and blood draw, and and Egg McMuffin (or sometimes two!) is a spiffy way to celebrate when one is ravenously hungry.

So I had this all figured out.  8:50 AM. . . ten minutes to get to AnyLab. . . maybe they wouldn’t be too crowded (it’s walk-in; they don’t take appointments). . . I COULD conceivably be home before 10:30 AM!  That would be great, because we had a lunch meeting with our pastor at our house at 11:45, and it would be helpful to be there to make lunch.

I pulled up to AnyLab at 8:59 and there were no other patients there.  This was clearly going to be my lucky (well, blessed) day!  The guy at the desk was polite, friendly, and talkative.  He gave me a very small amount of paperwork to fill out and while I was doing that, we learned that we both were Christians, we both had kids in colleges in Virginia (his daughter pre-med at Liberty), and when he asked which school our kids were at and I told him it was a very small school that no one had ever heard of called Patrick Henry College, he said, “Oh, I’ve heard of Patrick Henry, and it’s right near Leesburg!”  Small world, for sure.  I was feeling pretty good overall – other than being fairly hungry.

I hadn’t seen any nurses around, or even any other staff at all, for that matter, so I asked (half jokingly), “So, are you the phlebotomist, too?”

“Yes, and the office manager and the janitor and the owner!”

That was slightly unsettling, but I figured as long as he washed his hands between his janitorial and phlebotomical duties, all would be well.  I paid my $129 and sat down.

Before he could take me back to the chair and do the deed, the phone rang, and he was just as chipper with whoever was on the phone as he was with me.  It rang again.  And again.  And two people walked in.  And the phone rang again.  And another person walked in.  I wasn’t going to be out of there by 9:30.

We went back to the “lab” section, which was just behind a partial wall beyond the front desk, and I told him what I have told every person who has attempted to draw my blood in the past 15 years.  “I’ve been told I’m a hard stick.  I have drunk so much water this morning that I’m about to float away.  You can go anywhere in either arm, but what usually happens is they try different places and then end up with a butterfly in the hand.  I don’t care how many times you try, but my one rule is that you MAY NOT DIG.”  Following that speech, most people go straight for the butterfly, get in on the first try, fill the two (or sometimes three) tubes in about 30 seconds, get out, and I go home.  No big deal.  The lady at Dr. Gordin’s office is especially good at her job; she doesn’t even hurt!

“Mark” agreed that a butterfly in the hand would be the way to go, and he chose my left hand, which was fine with me.  However, he didn’t do any of the usual apply the tourniquet, make a fist, slap the hand song and dance routine.  He just put on the tourniquet and felt the hand.  While he finally did the deed I turned my head to the right and closely studied all the variously-colored collection vials.  There were a lot of them, in many colors.  They all had detailed labels, and I had plenty of time to study them.  He wasn’t hurting me, but I did feel pressure on my hand, as if he were pressing on the vein.  I’m not too bright, but I thought to myself, “doesn’t applying pressure tend to stop bleeding?”

He asked me if I was OK and I said I was.  A little while later he asked me again.  My hand was somewhat sore, but nothing really bad.  Mostly, I just wanted to have him get the blood and be done.  He asked me if he was hurting me.  “No.  If you were hurting me, I’d make a noise.  It wouldn’t be a terribly loud noise, ’cause that wouldn’t be good for business, but you’d know it.”  (There was no door between us and the folks sitting 20 feet away in the waiting area.)

I asked him if he was getting anything.  “We’re almost done.”  That was encouraging!  It had been three or four minutes, and that’s a LONG time for a blood draw.  Finally, I said the things I REALLY did NOT want to say.  I still hadn’t looked, but it must’ve been running awfully slowly to take that long.  I sighed.  “If you want to come out and try the other hand, I’m OK with that.”  He stayed with it another 30 seconds or so; then, finally, he was finished.  I was relieved.  I held the gauze on my hand while he held up the vial.  I could not believe what I saw.  There was less than 1/2″ of blood in the bottom of it!!!  All of 27 drops!!!

This was not good.

My bladder had kicked into overdrive, so I excused myself briefly while we both took a deep breath and prepared to go at it again.  In the bathroom, I could hear the phone ring, and when I got back to the chair, it was another round of put the gloves on – go answer the phone – welcome a couple new arrivals – answer the phone – label the tubes – answer the phone – apply the tourniquet – welcome another patient – answer the phone – swab the hand.  Etc.

I figured my right had would be happier.  I mean, I was well-hydrated; how hard could it be?  “Mark” told me he would let the answering machine get the phone and cheerfully pressed forward on the task at hand.  (nice pun, huh?)  I won’t bore readers with the details, but while the phone rang and the door chimed and I breathed slowly and deeply and studied a super-enlarged photo of a red blood cell on the left-hand wall, “Mark” spend several minutes not getting any blood from my right hand.

I was beginning to be concerned.  He already had my money.  My hands are the easiest places to draw blood.  The arms rarely perform well, and I do have my limits.  I was NOT going head or feet! What to do?!?

“Mark” asked me how much time I had today.  There were several sarcastic replies that could have been made, but I am proud to say I passed all those by.  “Well, I can’t leave and come back.  I live too far away.”  “Well, do you have 20 minutes?”  “Sure.  I can wait 20 minutes.”  “OK.  Let me take care of some of these others and then we’ll do you.”  I went back to my seat in the waiting area and took out a book.  Thus began one of the longest 20-minute time periods in recent memory.  I texted Scott and asked him to pray for us to be able to get the blood.  I read.  And read.  And read.

I also wondered if I should just forgo $149 and drive back to Dr. Gordin’s office, where her phlebotomist would get the blood in 30 seconds and Mercy would bill me $300+.  What would Scott say about that?  I was trying to save money, but my time, even though not worth any dollars or cents, had to be worth something, didn’t it?  I kept sitting and reading while “Mark” dealt deftly and seemingly without any problems at all with eight to ten other folks and an untold number of walk-in questions and phone calls.

Finally, when I was sure I had heard him give the answers and prices so many times that I could probably have been hired as a desperately-needed receptionist, he called me back.  It was right hand again (different vein) and it hurt quite a bit, but I bit my tongue and did not alarm the folks in the waiting area, nor did I kick “Mark.”  He did eventually get the two requisite vials, and I left at 11:09 AM.

So. . . I guess I saved us something like $150, but was it worth it?  I don’t think so.  And next year, where will I have my labs drawn?  Well, I’ll probably call AnyLabTestNow and find out WHO is doing their draws.  If it’s “Mark,” even though I like him, I appreciate his Christian stand, and I admire his independent go-get-’em approach to making money outside the system – and really want to give people like that my business – if he’s manning the needle, I think I’ll stick with Mercy’s sky-high prices.

At least today, I still the right to make that choice.


Ski bibs

It’s the last week of August, and this afternoon, Andrew appeared in his ski bibs.  No, it’s not snowing here.  It’s not even cold.  The high today was 89.  No, there’s no odd sporting competition that involves pretending to ski through the Ozarks.  Actually, Andrew was doing the yard work.  He had finished both the riding and push mowing and he was ready to tackle the weed-eating.  He was working really fast, because a friend had invited him to spend the night, and he couldn’t go the friend’s house till a certain list of responsibilities (including mowing the yard) was done.

He wears his ski bibs to weed-eat, because, in his words, “Nothing can get through these.”  Weed-eating is fraught with discomfort.  Not only do your arms and back get a workout just from holding the implement, your whole upper torso vibrates till your head starts to rattle.  Of course, 14 year-olds are pretty robust and can deal with all that.  The worst of it, the part that’s unavoidable and painful, is that little things like rocks and clods of dirt and sticks and stuff like that tend, with no warning whatsoever, to fly up to sting your legs.  Sometimes they attack with a vengeance, so Andrew has developed the habit of wearing his ski bibs as armor when weed-eating.  They’re nylon, so whatever hits just slides off, as opposed to jeans, which, while also a fairly good defense, tend to attract debris and leave a person with a ring of grass stain and dirt in the ankle-to-shin range.

At least he’s not wearing his ski goggles, as well.  I know someone who claims they are a most effective tear-preventative when cutting onions.   = )

Jeopardy question: What is 2002?

Answer:  The number of Niger pictures we sorted through in order to give Katie a somewhat manageable collection (335) to cull through for use in creating a music video of the trip.

We had all the pics taken by five different people, and a lot of them were really GREAT!

The essentials of (college) life

I got word today that My Favorite Llama has acquired sheets from Target.  Money must’ve changed hands on that transaction, as South American mammals are well-known for their fiscal integrity.

Josiah left home in late July to serve on a mission trip in Niger, west Africa.  From there, he returned directly to college with, as best I can determine, only his laptop and the 38-pound suitcase he took to Africa.  He was dropped off at college on Saturday, and classes started on Monday.  Margin is not generally a high priority for him.

As a bona fide mom, I do possess the ability to worry about my kids – although in my defense, I have, through much practice, become fairly adept at letting those temptations pass me by.  However, thinking of one’s son in a dorm room with (albeit by his own choice) no bedding and not much more than the clothes on his back does tend to bring out my latent motherly instincts, and in that vein, I submit these portions of my chat this evening with Katie:

Katie:  The Llama has acquired sheets. From Target! What a Llama.

me:  That’s superb!  But I would think he would have had to spend money to do that. . .
Katie:  It does seem that that would require green stuff.
 me:  I thought all his stuff was of another color.
 Katie:  Well, yes.
 me:  Well, I’m proud of the guy! I guess it’s like some kind of a camping trip where you pare everything down to the barest of essentials.  I suppose technically one can survive at college with one set of dress clothes, one set of relaxing clothes, 2 pairs each socks and underwear, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, laptop and charger, cell phone and charger, killer spin paddle, and a few quarters for laundry.  Technically speaking, I guess everything else (more clothes, pillow, sheets, blanket, towels, room decor, outerwear, razor and shaving cream, etc.) is just gravy.
Katie:  haha! so true.
me:  Oh, a Bible would probably be an essential, too, unless, of course, one has hidden it in one’s heart. . .
I am smiling.  Josiah may win the campus prize for minimalism and simplicity, but it sounds like he’s doing well.

My funeral

Last week, our community choir sang at the funeral of a lady who died too young, following nearly a year of uncommon medical difficulties.  She was the wife of a local doctor, and, given that her children appear to be in their late twenties and early thirties and her oldest grandchild is maybe seven or eight, I’d say she was probably in her fifties when she died.  I am 52.  I am not planning to die any time soon, but I’m guessing this woman wasn’t planning that, either.

I did not know the lady, but I am acquainted with one of her children.  I am not at all close to the family, and I certainly mean no disrespect AT ALL in what I am about to write, BUT I WANT TO HAVE SAID THE FOLLOWING, LOUD AND CLEAR

Don’t hold my funeral in a denominational church.

Make sure the person giving my eulogy knows me really well.  If for some reason my pastor doesn’t know me well, pick someone who does.

I know that funerals are not for dead people, so it really doesn’t matter what I want – but I’m going to say what I want, anyway.  Funerals are for people who are living and grieving.  They need to remember and cry, so they can get some closure.  I get that, but while I’m not asking for a party, I do want there to be some laughter, some smiles, some hope.

I want there to be a LOT of people there, a huge crowd actually.  I want people to miss me when I’m gone.  I want people to cry because they liked me and they loved me and I made a difference in their lives.

I want more to be made of my life than my death.

Tell the people that the best things I did were to love Scott and raise four awesome kids and that the hardest thing I did was teaching Josiah to read.  After that, the rest was gravy.

Please tell a lot of funny stories.  And don’t tell the people attending that they can’t tell their stories about me – serious or silly.  Let them all talk.  Spend plenty of time reminiscing about the stuff that mattered to me.  Share my quirks, my shortcomings, my mistakes, my successes.

Have somebody read some stuff from my blog.

Have people share the phrases that they remember me saying or writing.

Remind everybody that this is not our home and that where we’re going is glorious.  Then, in case any of them have any questions, tell them how to get there.

Tell them that nothing matters more than their relationships – with God, and with people, especially their families.

Music-wise, there probably needs to be some serious stuff (because I know that giving people an acceptable setting in which to cry and watch each other cry matters), but also play some of my favorites – maybe SCC’s “Speechless” and/or “Be Still” for slide shows, and Chris Tomlin for everybody to worship.

I’ll try to start getting people to take more pictures of me.  I’m usually the one taking the pictures, so I’m rarely in them.

To close the service, give this benediction:  “You are blessed in the name of the Lord.  Be a blessing, and have fun.”  That’s what I’m trying to do now, and believe me, I’ll be doing it with abandonment while you’re having my funeral.

Saw a green heron this morning

And yesterday, I saw my friend, the chattering belted kingfisher.  He was swooping down from the power line, flying fast upstream just a couple feet about the water, then coming back to do it again.  The third time up, he snagged a fish!!

But back to much more retiring heron o’ day. . . I occasionally see this bird standing in the creek near the bridge, almost always in the same spot, on the side nearest our house.  I saw what I thought was a green heron in exactly the same place this morning, but when I got closer, just before it flew off, I could tell that it was much smaller than the one I usually see.  I was pretty excited about that; there must be at least two in the area.  Maybe today’s was the son of the “mom” I’ve been seeing.

I was a little blog-dead and, in trying to come up with something else to say about green herons, I found this tidbit online:  “Green herons can aim there excrement at the eyes of their predators as a defense mechanism.”

Sigh.  These kinds of problems are all too frequent, and although their abundance makes part of me sad, they can sometimes be quite funny.  I think I’ll start collecting them.  Maybe I should add a new category, or maybe it would be worth having its own page:  a place to collect errors that appear in print.  What do you think such a page should be called?  Add a comment and give me your opinion.

“Peachy keen, Chef Cherie!”

Just before we made our trip to North Little Rock to see my folks, I went to McKenna’s and got some peaches.  You can’t have too many peaches, and theirs have been really good this year.  Well, they’re not as good as Colorado peaches.  Colorado peaches are THE BEST peaches I have ever eaten in my entire life.  When I was about 12, we vacationed in Colorado Springs, and one day for our picnic lunch, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought some peaches.  They were huge, sweet, and juicy; mammoth hunks of deliciousness that I never forgot, and that I’ve never experienced anywhere since.

Until two years ago, when the menfolk and I took our infamous Wild West vacation in late August and early September of 2011.  We once again spent some time in Colorado Springs, and in a regular grocery store there, I bought some peaches.  They were SOME PEACHES like Wilbur was SOME PIG!  I couldn’t believe that 35 or 40 years later, they still grew out-of-this-world peaches out there.  I went back the next day for more, and I asked some local customers if this was some special kind of peach, and they all looked at me like I was slightly daft and said slowly, “Ummm. . . no.  They’re just normal peaches. . . ”  As if all groceries everywhere always sold gems like that!

My favored exclamation of incredulity is “Sweet Georgia Peaches!” but I am sure that Georgia’s got nothing on Colorado when it comes to fuzzy fruit.

Anyway, I am quite fond of a good sweet peach (yellow flesh only), so I bought six or eight, even though they weren’t quite ripe, because I knew they’d be perfect when we got back from our trip.  Then, while we were gone, my mom gave me a couple more peaches, so when we got home, I had plenty of ripe peaches that were ready to be eaten immediately.

Except that while we were away, our handyman friend, Barry, had come to finish the work on Jessica’s bathroom ceiling.  He had left a bill on the table, and since our schedule had forced his work to be delayed for a number of weeks, I knew he needed to be paid right away.  That evening, even before we unpacked and stuck our daily pizza in the oven, I called Barry and got directions to his house, so I could take him a check.  He told me to come on, but to bring some bags and I could take home some . . . peaches!  He has peach trees in his yard and what wasn’t being picked would just spoil.

Well, with something like ten ripe ones sitting on go, I surely didn’t need any more peaches!  But I didn’t want to offend Barry, either, so we took two Wal-Mart bags and went over there.  I figured I could just stick a couple in one of the bags, and all would be well.  However, it didn’t work out that way.  Barry kept pointing out good ones and urging me to take more.  Then he’d pull loose ones off the tree and drop them in our bags.  He kept talking the whole time, so I didn’t even have a good opportunity to say that I really couldn’t use any more peaches.

Back at home, I was tired and I just stuck all the bags of ripe peaches in the fridge and figured I’d deal with them tomorrow.

Now, pretty much everyone knows that I dislike cooking.  Actually, that’s not true.  The only parts I really dislike are the planning, the shopping, the prepping, the actual cooking itself, and the clean-up.  Anyway, my preference where food is concerned is for it to be ready to eat.  When I sit down at the table and eat a full meal, I end up eating too much.  I think it’s because I have to sit there so long.  It really only takes me about 45 seconds to eat enough to fill me up, and if I stop there, I’m good.  So, at home, what I generally do is just grab a handful of whatever’s available that looks good, and stand in the kitchen looking out at the bird feeder while I eat it and go on.  Then a couple hours later, or whenever I’m hungry, I grab something else.  I know that’s against all the nutritional advice, but it works for me.  I’ve lost 45 pounds doing that, and I feel better and am healthier than I’ve been in many years.

Anyway, if I have to spend time prepping food before I can eat it, I get frustrated, so I like to have things that I can snatch in an instant.  Summer fruit is great that way!  I usually keep strawberries and grapes handy because they require NO work at all, and then I cut up a watermelon and a couple cantAloupes and have those ready to eat.  That way, at any time, I can just reach into the fridge and take a handful of something delicious and nutritious.  And I do.  All day and into the night!

Some fruits don’t work so well, though.  Things like apples that have to be cut.  Or, for that matter,  peaches.  For one thing, I don’t want to spend the time to cut them, and for another thing, if I do cut them, I have to eat the whole thing right then and there, whether I want to or not, because it will turn brown and then no one will eat it.

So the next morning, when I opened the fridge and saw ALL those bulging bags full of ripe peaches, I decided that the thing to do was to cut them and treat them with Fruit Fresh so they wouldn’t brown, and then put them in a lidded container, so I could grab a few slices at time.  This seemed like a brilliant idea, and this is exactly what I did.  For thirty minutes I stood at the counter in my wild floral apron and sliced peaches into Fruit Fresh water, drained them, and put them in big leftover dishes.  I had two of the long ones FULL of sliced peaches – one box mainly from McKenna’s and one box mainly from Barry.

But the next morning, horror of horrors, Barry’s box was browning.  UGH!  And I had worked so hard!  See, I have this thing about wasting food. . . (okay, true confessions, and about wasting other things besides food; well, actually probably about wasting everything known to man).  I feel guilty when I throw wasted food away, so I was highly motivated; I needed to use those peaches and quick.

I thought about making peach preserves, but that’s a lot of work that I really didn’t want to do, and besides, we don’t eat many preserves, and we still have ten jars of plum preserves left from last year’s bounty.  No, I wasn’t up for preserves.

Then I thought about just freezing them, but they were probably already past their prime for that, and when you thaw them, then they’re mushy, so you can’t eat them straight, and then you have to figure out what to do with a bunch of mushy peaches.  No, I wasn’t up for freezing them.

Then I thought about baking something peachy; maybe a peach cobbler.  But with only a few of us on site, we’d eat a few servings, and then what?  If I would even be able to create a decent peach cobbler, I surely couldn’t waste part of it!  And besides that, with peach cobbler you can actually see the peaches, and you want them to look gloriously golden.  These seemed to be getting browner by the minute.  = {

Hmmm. . . but I sensed that the baking idea could still have merit.  Maybe peach muffins?  Now there was a thought!  I went online and found a recipe or six for peach muffins.  The various recipes were similar, but on some of the reviews people had commented on what they had added to make them even better.  The recipe that looked easiest – and I do like easy – said it made 16 muffins.  That’s an odd number (strange, not uneven), but it had one of those gizmos where you can change the number of servings it makes.  I had a heck of a lot of peaches, so I changed it to 24, and sure enough, it very politely changed all the quantities for me.  Nice!  Now, it did give me things like three and-a-half eggs, but I figured I could work around that.

So I printed out the amended 24-muffin recipe and another recipe that had similar quantities, and then, in the spirit of Jessica, who follows recipes very loosely, I went down to the kitchen to take the challenge.  I tried to incorporate the best features of both recipes, as well as the most creative additions from the reviews.  I guessed at many of the quantities, but at least I had the (admittedly brilliant) foresight to WRITE DOWN what I did.  Brainy, huh?

And when it got to the part about adding three cups of chopped peaches, I looked at those browning peaches of Barry’s and said to myself, “These won’t look so good if you bite into them in a muffin, but when I make raisin bran muffins, I use applesauce, so maybe I could puree these peaches in the blender (in which case they’d all be a nice uniform color – a color that we won’t describe in detail here, but which would blend in just fine with a baked muffin) and use them in their liquid form.”

That is exactly what I did, and when I tasted the batter, it was pretty darn good.

Now, we all know how frustrating it is to be load your muffin tins pans and end up with a few empty holes; or worse than that, to have enough batter left (which you know you’re not going to waste) for only one and-a-half more muffins.  Well, I am thrilled to report that this recipe came out to EXACTLY 24 muffins with only enough left over for mandatory bowl-licking.  That was SO very satisfying!!!  (Furthermore, they were perfectly done at 20 minutes, with none of that irritating “pop them back in for three minutes and check them; well, they probably still need another two minutes; are they done in the middle?  maybe just another 30 seconds; oh shoot! they got too dark” stuff.)

I ended up baking one and-a-half batches of them, and Andrew pronounced them irresistible, begging me throughout the day to let him eat just one (or two or three) more.  I sampled part of one myself, and they are definitely tasty.  I was so proud of myself, mixing and matching like that, and I’m just so jazzed that they turned out well that I will now share my made-up recipe here:

Peach Muffins  – makes 24

2 cups brown sugar

4 ½ cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 ¼ tsp salt

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup sour cream

½ cup oil

3 eggs

3 cups fresh peaches (~10-12 sliced into blender with skins on, then liquefied)

cinnamon sugar

In very large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In large mixing bowl combine wet ingredients.  Stir well till smooth.

Pour wet into dry and mix only till thoroughly moistened.

Spoon batter into sprayed muffin tins, nearly full.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 400o for 20 minutes.  Let sit in tins 3 minutes, then remove to rack to cool.

(Note:  These have been known to attract teenage boys.)

Jeopardy Question: What is 34.48?

Answer:  The number of cents out of every dollar spent by the State of Missouri that goes to social services.

Social Services is far and away the biggest chunk of Missouri’s spending pie.  The next closest category is education at 27.08¢.  I could get steamed, but I have too many other more important things to spend my brain cycles spinning about.  = )


Jeopardy Question: What is 49?

Answer:  The temperature in degrees Fahrenheit when I went out to walk this morning – on August 15 in southern Missouri!!!  I was actually almost COLD in my shorts and T-shirt.  At 11:30 AM, it was 62.  I considered asking, “What’s the world coming to?” but I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

Fast leak

A week ago, Andrew noticed that Scott’s car’s left rear tire was flat, and I do mean totally flat.  Flat enough that when he checked it, it didn’t move the tire gauge thing at all.  He aired it up, and we redoubled our commitment to have him check all the Honda tires once a week.  This is on his checklist, but it’s on the Saturday list, and he tends to simply disregard those lists on Saturdays and Sundays.  Sigh.

Yesterday, we pulled in the driveway from somewhere, and we both saw that that same tire was flat again.  Yes, totally flat, and totally flat is only good on abdomens.

I have decided that I like Taney County Tire & Towing.  Not only do they have a very nice, new, CLEAN comfortable waiting area, and a CLEAN bathroom, they have several employees that I recognize as really good mechanics who used to work at other shops in town.  And, as a bonus, when I called this morning to ask about getting my tire repaired, the guy said sure they could fix it, and no I wouldn’t need an appointment and bring it on in.

So I had Andrew pump that baby super full of air, and away we went.  We walked straight in and they took me with no wait.  Yes, they’d fix the flat.  Yes, they’d check all the other tires for leaks.  Yes, they could do an oil change on it at the same time, and, no, they wouldn’t sell me a tire I didn’t need.  They don’t do business that way, ma’am.  I read Better Homes and Gardens and Andrew read Car and Driver until the man came in to ask me where I kept my wheel lock key; it wasn’t in the trunk or in the glove compartment.

Hmmm. . . since I don’t even know what a wheel lock key IS, that was a great question.  I guess the car has had new wheels put on it at some point, and they have locks and you can’t get the lug nuts off without the key, and he can’t fix the tire if he can’t get the wheel off.  “Well,” I asked, “Let’s assume the worst case scenario and the wheel lock key is lost and gone forever.  THEN what would you do?”  They would go to O’Reilly’s and buy a wheel lock removal kit and get the wheel off that way and then put regular, non-locking lug nuts on it.  The look in his eye indicated that that process might be rather pricey.  I suggested that Andrew and I go look in the console between the seats.  Which we did.  It’s built-in plastic box buried under the center armrest, and it was full of all kinds of interesting “treasures,” including, lo and behold, a wheel lock key (hallelujah!) – which looked to me an awful lot like a 3/4″ long-nose socket, but what do I know?  I thought we were looking for a key.

So, the fast leak was fixed (it had been leaking around the rim, I’m told), the other tires were checked (all good, no leaks, plenty of tread), the oil was changed, most of the fluids were topped off, and I was not sold a tire I didn’t need.

We were out of there in about 45 minutes and $53, all told.  At just a skosh over $1.17 a minute, it was time and money well spent, if you ask me, and I will be glad to give Taney County Tire & Towing some business in the future.  When you drive old cars, giving such places some business is just about as normal as breathing.  = )

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