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Delia Wilson, Writer Posts

Kinhin

(Walking Meditation from Japanese Buddhism)

As I climb out of my car, a fetid wave of dog poop flows over me: I have parked next to the trash cans at the trailhead. I thank heavens for responsible pet owners who trash the poop but I walk quickly to pass by that bit of nature after I start my iPhone app to record my walk statistics.

Just a few steps brings me past the playground equipment on the right as I spot a blue fisherman’s soft-sided creel on the picnic bench. Then I hear the river; it’s loud enough to overwhelm all my senses but there’s also hints of a floral scent from hidden wildflowers that nudges me for attention. This is the closest to the river I come in my walking mile and I tend to slow down to absorb it all, the sounds, the smells, and the sight of the rushing water glinting irregular patterns of mosaic-like reflections.

This is why my daily walk takes place in this park – several miles from my safe neighborhood where walking is not just possible but easier. All my senses are engaged but there are other advantages to this path, the people and the dogs.

Immediately around the curve I meet a sweaty, panting runner. She doesn’t have the breath to speak but I nod and smile at her anyway. A few more paces and the river sounds start to fade and I can now hear the distant rumble of traffic. That noise is overlaid by the cicadas and the bird song which becomes a soothing backdrop to my walking meditation.

I reset my brain, check my pace and speed up. My tendency to linger here is not good for my total time nor my goal of building strength and stamina after my surgeries this year. I hit my stride at a solid 18 minute mile. I’m congratulating myself on my exercise ethic as the path curves and I see a delightful tableau: father, mother, a runners’ baby carriage and a dog. All jogging. My heart just sings as the running basset hound, ears a-flying, skin a-jiggling and a-wiggling, smiles at me. And I stop.

The family graciously slows to let me greet the happy dog. Later I come to realize I have no earthly idea what the humans looked like. But that loose-skinned, big-footed dog was a riot of colors, brown, white and tans. His smile is forever imprinted in my brain.

Again though, I forget to pause the exercise app so my displayed pace takes a dive. Oh, well, another unreliable set of stats but then again I’m only keeping track so that I can see my progress in total miles.

The paved path narrows and curves into a sandy area near the water. It’s reminiscent of a beach walk where the sand drifts over everything. I remember the week before when days after the rain this area was a muddy mess with no way to avoid splashes. At least the dried mud has been shoveled off the asphalt at some point but the pinkish dusty soil now is all sliding back over the path. Footsteps and bike tracks show how many folks have been drawn towards the water’s edge in this pseudo beach stretch.

Mimosa blossoms and purple wildflowers curtain glimpses of the river and the opposite shore. All of sudden my eye is drawn to an unnatural hot pink and loud green across the river. Above the grey and black rocky river edge, women runners in varying colored shirts create visual interest – I’m not fast enough to capture the scene as I enjoy the artistic composition and forget to raise my phone and use my camera app.

Exchanging morning greetings with the next fellow walkers, I feel like I’m a part of something – not alone. I get to greet another dog, a bouncy, but leashed, golden doodle who tries to stop to greet me as his owner bikes on gently dragging him past me. I frequently speak to dogs even though the owners aren’t interested in me. Since I don’t remember the humans anyway, maybe that’s appropriate!

I start looking for my turn around point. Was it that tree I reversed at last? Or that curve? Wait, there’s the dead tree that looks like a double tree rising straight up. I go on past for a few more paces to increase my distance from yesterday. Now heading back, I have to remember to keep up my pace. Even though it was mild when I started out only ten minutes ago, the heat and humidity is rising fast as this weekend may be the hottest of the summer. I don’t like sticky and my breathing gets shorter but I work at writing in my head as I walk in distraction because my brain is now in a place to do that.

But look, there’s still some blackberries left and I pause to munch a bit on the riper ones that are sweet but small. I’m reminded of my years in the country where blackberry thickets grew insanely well on the edge of our property. Dang, sure would like some over ice cream. Cook them down a bit in the microwave and it’s such an easy treat. Oh, well. Motor on.

Snatching a crushed Coors can off the path – ‘cause I can at this slow pace – I spot the parking lot in the distance – my goal is in sight. As I reach my car, I check my distance and yes, a bit further than yesterday. I exchange my purse for my walking hat in the trunk.

I sit briefly, swigging my lemon water, enjoying the relaxed muscles and the feeling of a job well-done. As I’m leaving the parking lot, I hear a voice in the car with me. Oh, rats, once again I forgot to turn off the phone app, skewing my stats even further. Still, I walked further than all the days before.

Now I’m ready to go to work, thinking my walk did me just as much good as a kinhin does at the Zen temple.  Meditation in motion but with human and dog interaction in nature. My preferred kinhin.

Jail

Much of my poetry is also visual which simply doesn’t translate to a website blog. So this one from 1969 written in the Agnes Scott dorms is an image only.

1969_jail

Back to Writing

Not that I ever stopped. In fact, I’ve spent the last two years immersed in a large project which resulted in a genealogy-based book. That really got me ready to do more writing. I’ve missed the short essays and bits and pieces I used to indulge in.

So I’ve started an autobiography which may just wait for years to be read and a fiction book based on one of the Wilsons in my genealogy.

I also joined a writers’ group for the first time. Two meetings and I’ve already learned so much. I was directed to IngramSpark for my genealogy book which you can read more about here and am enjoying the bits of wisdom being delivered in our critique sessions.

I was spurred on to dig back into my writing after our last afternoon which included a mediation period during which I found myself writing Kinhin, the next blog post.

Health Insurance, Medicare & Self-Employment, Oh My!

When I awoke at 5 am this morning, I found myself unable to go back to sleep. When I got up, I realized I was on the verge of crying. It took a while before I realized why.  Today is the day I pay full price for my most expensive medication.

The path to my state of no health insurance is a bit bizarre but does highlight some of what’s wrong with health insurance in America today. Couple that with my husband’s Medicare and disability status and I have a tale to tell.

I’ve tried to keep this blog on business matters this year but I have to take a break and write for my sanity!

The path.  Um, well, it starts like many of us out there with the recession.

I moved to Charlottesville in 2009 to take a job in order to survive the recession.  My health insurance (I was self-employed then) had risen to heights that made it obvious that I was going to have to start choosing whether to pay the insurance or the house payment.  So I took a job and moved 500 miles to this wonderful town.

I don’t regret the move at all but the job ended abruptly some months later and I went on COBRA.  Self-employment seemed to be my best choice at the time so I forged on.  The COBRA payments were reduced due to federal intervention. 18 months later it ended on Oct. 1.

Now in Georgia when this happened to me 13 years ago, I was able to convert my group policy to an individual policy and life went on. Here in Virginia the state has not made such advances.

I had to apply for insurance.  My former workplace suggested that I use their insurance broker to navigate the waters. And so my saga really begins.

The broker provided a web link so that I could apply on line, thank heavens.  There’s no way I could have physically completed that many page application with my arthritic fingers! So application to Anthem done.  Check.

Mistake number 1:  for some reason that I cannot remember now, I actually applied for the best policy available, i.e., the most expensive.

The broker informed me that while the policy was still in underwriting (before acceptance) that I could call and change to the less expensive policy.

Mistake number 2: I spent my time trying to find cheaper insurance, applying for an AARP policy. I did not call Anthem to change my policy.

AARP turned me down flat – I guess you have to be an extremely healthy old person to get that one.

So the Anthem policy was in place but I did change the start date to a month later since I incurred no health expenses in October. (Thinking ahead I got 3 months of each medication in September through mail order – a normal way to get and save money on most group policies.)

But then I tried to get Anthem to change my policy. The more expensive policy was $1600 a month.  The next policy was only $800 a month.  The broker sent me a letter to sign and return to get that done.

Weeks later in November, I received an email from the broker saying that Anthem needed the request done differently so I immediately completed and returned the attached form via email.  Well, time went on and I’m being dunned for $1600 a month. I finally called Anthem to find out why and they said they had not received any request to change that.

Mistake number 3: leaving the situation in the hands of the broker who assured me it was okay.

Well, I was getting worried about being canceled to lack of payment so I paid $1600 which should have been for 2 months, Nov. and Dec.  Right before Christmas I found that not only had the broker not filed the form but also I had passed through the “look up” period.

I could no longer change the policy.

So a wonderful Anthem customer service representative dug in and started working on it.  The broker assured me they were working on it.

I took the Anthem rep’s advice and filed for a new policy.  I did not follow the broker’s advice – pay to keep the expensive policy in force. I couldn’t afford to pay another $1600.

So last week they canceled my insurance.  I am now uninsured – hopefully temporarily. But today I plunk out the big bucks for a med.

And I wait to see if Anthem will approve the new policy.

On to the next insanity: Medicare and my disabled husband.

He was fortunate not to have to wait too many years to get on disability, but one does have to wait for 18 months for Medicare to kick in. That happened last March. Yippee!

And oops, since he’s under 65 (which means everyone on disability), he cannot buy a Medicare supplemental policy.  So, friends, all disability recipients in this state (maybe in the nation) are under insured.

Then the next reality hit home.  Yes, the big drugs that are what he is supposed to be on have a copay of $250 a month on Medicare. (That’s with some discounting taking place, folks.)

And then, one company says they provide free drugs for 6 months. Yippee!  Oops, but not if you are on Medicare.  Medicare recipients are prevented by federal law from receiving free anything.  I guess that’s for his protection?  So he’s opted to not take the drugs.

Obamacare?

It obviously does not go far enough. I’m sure it’s adding more layers of this convoluted thinking and may not help us as a married couple at all.

Being self-employed?

Highest income I”ve ever had.

Being an insured self-employed person?

Still can’t afford the insurance if I actually want to have money left over at the end of the month for saving or putting towards that retirement that is never going to happen.

That policy I’m dying to get?

The worst insurance I’ve ever had.  I’ll not be able to afford continuing the treatments for my disintegrating spine that I need to stay at a pain level that allows me to work. Why?  Because of the total cost of the policy and copays for my meds is so high and the deductible a major hurdle.

And now?

Now that I”ve vented, I’ll dig in and get to work to make more money in the insane hope that this will all work out to the good in the end. Have a nice day!

UPDATE, February 27, 2011

I ended up denied health insurance since my HIPPA eligibility had expired. So I had gotten bad advice from the Anthem customer representative.

I asked the sales representative if that meant I was screwed due to no fault of my own.  She said yes.

She also contacted her supervisor and several hours later, they reinstated and changed my policy as I had requested in November.

So now I am insured with a policy that is expensive and has a high deductible which means I can’t afford to use the policy. Go figure.

Charlottesville Running Company: my favorite walk

The Charlottesville Running Company is running a weekly contest between now and Christmas. The following is my entry:

My favorite walk is down at Riverview Park.  This section of the Rivanna trail has everything from the roar of traffic to the almost quiet of the forest to the sounds of the river. Between the birds (including a flock of geese),  cicadas and the regular deep croak of a bullfrog, it’s never a quiet place, especially in the summer. The views are astounding: glimpses of the river, flowering undergrowth coupled with the rear entrances of businesses and derelict panel trucks that stare right at you. All of that is forgotten when you enter into the unusual sounds and sight of the 250 bridge.  Best of all I love the bit of that “runners high” I get towards the end,  an end that always feels like the beginning of something new and refreshed.

Exercising – Okinawan Style

Note: this was originally written in May of 1978 while in Japan.  Interestingly enough, it works for here and today. Enjoy!

dm2

After several months’ observation of the exercise habits of Okinawans, American and native, I’ve come up with a list of do’s and don’ts for the partici­pants and the spectators:

The primary rule-ichiban-is to ignore the weather, especially the rain. All sports can and do continue when the rain begins no matter what the temperature.

(1)  If flooding should occur, joggers stop only if you can’t swim.   Beware of lighting, use of which to dry off can curb exercising.

(2)  Bicycling fans always take care in passing minicars too closely.  One loosely thrown arm from the car can inflict major damage to your bicycle and or body.

(3)  Never whistle, yell or otherwise harass an exerciser even if she’s good looking, well-built or you’re desperate.    This kind of activity ruins concentration and presents danger to the athlete.  (She might fall into a ditch or run into a car trying to see who’s “bothering” her.)

(4) Girls, search sporting goods store for the cutest, briefest sweatsuit ever.  Speed always improves while being chased.

(5)  Bicyclers ride with traffic. However, be careful not to run red lights, hedge on yellow lights or even be too free on green lights.  Most drivers will run over you if they get a chance.  Joggers also beware – some drivers seem to be drawn to such targets.

(6) Runners do not need instructions from the passerby. If the athlete wants to kill himself/herself, he/she can do it easily without assistance.

(7) When jogging or cycling, keep one eye out for dogs. These friends of man can lead to a shot of adrenalin causing short, erratic bursts of speed.  Such incautious actions can land oneself in a ditch, hole or hospital.

(8) By all means, women, enroll in an exercise class.  This unrestrained activity can improve body tone and mental outlook.   Sore muscles are an added pleasure.

(9) After these exercise sessions, don’t forget to gather at the nearest bakery, dinner, chow hall, etc., to recover.

(10)  Exercise hardest during water rationing.  The resulting wetness does delude some into thinking they’ve been bathing.

(11) Stay a breathing space away from those who exercise during water rationing.

(12)  If the sweat reminds you of a dung hole instead of a bath, exercise only at gyms with showers during water rationing

(13)  Girls, be sure to frequent the gym weight room for a work out. In addition
to the general companionship of men, you just might find “the man of your
dreams.”  If you can stand within breathing distance of him there, a marriage
on Okinawa might work.

(14)  Equipment should always include a sweatband for one’s forehead.  Sweat is a blinding agent, comparable only to typhoon rains.

Last but not least;   always overdo it – puffing chests, red faces,   sweaty T-shirts, pants, and shorts are definitely in fashion on Okinawa.

Sayonara from the wet paradise.

deedee

I’m already late and other thoughts

Well, despite my best intentions, I’ve already fallen down on my blogging activity.  I have several topics chosen and one partially written in my head.  After a long week of work last week, I just am having trouble getting back into a productive groove.

I did want to mention that I’m seeing real estate moving and more job openings locally.  We’re on the way up economically – no matter that it might be a fitful recovery.  I graduated in the recession of the 70’s. Returned to the states from overseas during the recession of the 80’s and then became jobless despite the best planning possible in this recession.  I think I’ll sit out the next one, thank you!

Which brings me to my dilemma: whether to remain self-employed or take a permanent position somewhere.  Don’t know the answer and am having trouble letting the future plan itself.  Accepting what comes is not only easiest but healthiest, this I know from experience.  Though I saw the recession coming, my decision to take a job to weather it didn’t exactly go the way I planned, so my planning is now rife with indecision.

We love living in Charlottesville and I know we made the right decision to target the area in my job hunt. It’s definitely opened up new possibilities for work and play (I promise my next post will be about Socializing Delia). Now that we have a contract on our GA house, I feel more confident about being able to settle in here perhaps even with a local home purchase. I’m enjoying my new friends and the social media outlets that have delivered them into my house!

After making the move, taking the risks and having to readjust to self-employment, however,  I’m having some difficulty settling into my new life. Kinda like, oh, gee, am I going to get to stay here?  Well, I stopped applying for D.C. jobs after one afternoon trip to D.C. (Ever wondered what a third world country is like? Just visit our nation’s capital!) I’m no longer looking at Charlotte job openings with the same scrutiny that I was last month.

So yeah I probably can stay here. So do I jump into the marketing mode for my business?  Yuck.  Well, how about dipping my toe in.  I RSVP’d for the COC after hours next week down at Lake Monticello.  I may take the day off completely because the Women’s Round Table Lunch is also that day as well as another crucial appointment.  Maybe I should dress up and hit the streets that morning. Let’s see: wearing not so comfortable clothes to meet and greet or working a making money?  Guess what my druthers are!

Well, off to work for now.  Definitely a decision is not on my to-do list today!

On the Path

I got an early start this morning when Sissy (the 15 lb min pin) decided enough was enough – sleep that is. So we were on the trail by 7 this morning. The Rivanna River Trail, that is. Just one part of my path here in C’ville.

We left Athens last fall, me after 27 total years there and Tommy after an whole lifetime.  The newness of C’ville is not wearing off or wearing thin still today.  Back some time ago I checked out meetup.com in an effort to meet people here.  That led me to a walking group on Monday nights. The first night I showed up, at the Charlottesville Running Company, Marty says, “We’re doing 3 miles tonight; can you do it?”

I blithely replied, “Sure, I can do that.” Well, it was the hottest and muggiest day in C’ville so far this summer.  And… walking downtown C’ville off the mall is hilly.  I did make it but it was really rough!

The next week I took the 2 little dogs.  A couple of weeks later we walked down at Riverview park and the path has gone from there. We meet Marty for the Monday night walk and this week did the Thursday morning walk.  Weekends I head for the park and do over 3 miles there as well. So next week I’ll be up to 9 miles a week. Wow.

I’ve always said I don’t like to sweat and that is a very true statement.  The good news is that it is cooler and less muggy here than Georgia so it’s not as bad as it would be down south.  I used to remodel houses for exercise as I’ve never been a believer in exercising for exercising’s sake. Time moves on and now I can’t physically work on houses.  There’s still a lot I can’t do because of continuing physical problems, but by golly, I can walk!

Riverview Park is a nice little park that leads into the Rivanna River Trail which runs around C’ville.  Almost 2 miles are paved leading out of the park and all of it lies along the river.  There are spots where you can go down to the river’s edge so the doggies can drink. (They are then required to pull me back up to the trail, such good sled dogs!) There are spots where you don’t realize the river is there.

The path winds along in back backyards of homes and businesses. There’s a back hum of traffic, sometimes near and sometimes very distant.  Between the birds (recently including a flock of geese),  cicadas and the regular deep croak of a bullfrog. it’s never a quiet place.  Sometimes the rushing water can drown out everything else – oh, heavenly!

The sights are so varied! Sometimes you are in wilderness and then you come face to face with hulks of panel trucks parked in the back of an auto repair shop. Walking under the 250 bridge has become a soothing comfort for me – dampening the noise from above.  Sitting in the car on top was scary before since you can feel the bridge move.  Underneath, though, that is all a distant memory.

Everybody says hi as they pass and occasionally we stop to greet other dog visitors.  Mostly we stand to the side while I hold my dogs tightly and the passing pooches react or sometimes don’t react to the presence of my pair. This morning some sort of hound started hallooing immediately on spotting us.  He was still giving voice long after we went by.

The folks can be interesting to watch. Today I spotted a guy again who happened to end up in one of my pictures.  He talks on the phone his whole walk, making business calls and sweating.  Huh?  Another morning I passed a fellow who was creepily scurrying along with some sort of satchel.  Reminded me of that innocuous serial killer who’s always “such a nice, quiet fellow”.  Also seen and heard today was a real runner – no flat-footed jogger, was he.  (and really skinny, too; either obsessive or a competitor).

On my path in C’ville, just enjoying the variety and monotony of walking with my dogs.

View today’s photos below or  at http://deliawilson.tumblr.com

Blogging.

I am a writer first and foremost.  Then I’m a web and graphic designer. I am the “web guru” to my customers and friends. Due to my varied background and my big mouth, this blog has a threefold, oops fourfold, purpose:

1) Imparting information to my web design & hosting clients as well as anyone who is interested in web issues

2) Giving me a platform for the humor and opinion pieces I’m famous for. (I’ve incorporated my columns from the weekly Oglethorpe Echo and will be adding in my humor pieces from Okinawa, Japan’s Entertainment Weekly as I scan them in)

3)  Trying to get my Georgia friends and relatives to come visit or move to Charlottesville (hereafter referred to only as C’ville)

4) Communicating to prospective clients and/or employers who I am and what I believe in. (Yup, I want you to know me)

Guys and Beasties

What is it with guys and those living creatures we gals aren’t fond of? Perhaps my view on this is restricted by the circles I now live in, but I think it has wider implications.

I was fortunate that my son wasn’t too interested in the bugs and beasts, so I escaped the type of episode my brother subjected my mother to when he was about 12. He had developed an interest in biology, of which we all, of course, were very supportive. Finally, little Bro was developing some type of academic leanings. Our support, however, led us into new territory when Bro arrived home with a dog carcass he had obtained from the local vet. His autopsy efforts kept all of us out of the basement for days! Well, at least he didn’t bring home bugs or snakes.

It’s not that I am particularly afraid or repulsed by bugs and snakes. I’m not like my daughter-in-law who freaks at the sight of a spider or wasp. I consider myself pretty grownup about such things. Being a military wife and later a single parent for years has instilled in me a streak of self-reliance and practicability that many men and women may lack.

I mean, after all those gigantic flying cockroaches and lizard-infested rooms on Okinawa, Japan, how could I be too squeamish?   Well, I’m not, but, guys, you do astound me sometimes!>

For example, we have three entomologists at our karate school. Not one, three!. One showed up at my Christmas party 2 years ago with chocolate chirp cookies.   The chirp means the crunch in those tasty treats was crickets, not nuts.   The cookies were better than your usual run of chocolate chip though that was probably due to a good recipe and not the inclusion of the crickets.   What was funny that night were the numbers of folks (men) who refused to even try them! There were leftovers.

This summer our pool party featured deviled eggs with bug parts.   I did not ask what bugs.   I did not need to know that piece of information. They were quite tasty with a little added crunch. The party hostess reached the buffet as I was taking the last one. She exclaimed, “Oh, they’re all gone. Too bad.” Her face fell when I offered her half of mine. She accepted and slunk off to the side.

Yep, the plate was clean. The past years had instituted a dare system with both entomologists harking their wares. No one dared not to try those eggs!

Now I find these guys are swapping recipes. I’m not sure whether to fear or anticipate the next party.

Now, if that isn’t bad enough, there is my husband. I won’t tell you about his phobia. His fear of one specific member of the insect world simply doesn’t compute when you discover his interest in snakes and other creepy crawly things. He loves snakes and turtles and all sorts of other living things. And what does he do? As if he were my young son, as if he were still a boy, he brings them home.

First, snakes. He had one when we married. I believe it was a king snake. That aquarium went into my teenage son’s room. Eventually my son let it lose. Nowadays, my husband is constantly reporting to me what snake he’s found, how he moved it off the road, you know, like pygmy rattlers and copperheads. I was relieved when he didn’t bring them home.

But now, our neighboring entomologist has requested a rattler. He said to bring it home for him! Boys will be boys, I guess.

My hunter husband is always relaying bits of data to me about the animal kingdom. I know an incredible amount about deer, bears and other denizens of the forest. Last night we even watched a national geographic special on snakes. He is forever turning to the discover channel to watch informative, yet boring, programs on fierce, poisonous or weird things.

I must admit, though, that a baby box turtle turned out to be an episode to cherish. He found one the other morning during his jog and, of course, brought it home. It wasn’t the first turtle he had walked in with, for he seems to have a particular fondness for them. He announced he was going to keep it. I took the 4 inch beastie from him all the while wondering did we still have an aquarium?

A moment later he changed his mind and said he would let it go instead. Feeling fonder of the critter at that point, I was letting it roam around my hands. It wasn’t as shy or scared as the ones I’ve handled before.

I looked down to see my dog, Micky, the basset/golden retriever mix (yeah, I know that’s weird). Micky was very interested in my little friend. She has a wonderfully large heart and loves everything and everybody and was interested in either gaining a new friend or eating it. I leaned over to let Micky sniff the turtle. She really didn’t know what to make of it. Then the dangedest thing happened. That little 4 inch turtle bit Micky’s nose!

Micky’s offense was noticeable. She withdrew. Our delight in our turtle friend’s self-assertion has not faded even today, a week later.

Ah, yes, memories to cherish. So what if it’s the grownup and not the kid who furnishes them? Yep, boys will be boys–and they will be men, too.