Monday, September 28, 2009


It has been a big week at Casa Tuel. My friend Sonya came to visit, and as often happens when someone who doesn't live here comes to visit, I went to see some of the sights and places I only visit when I'm showing out-of-towners around.
First, we had Big Box Monday: we went to Ikea, and we went to Costco. Normally a trip to either one of these stores would be enough for one day, but I was trying to comparison-shop cheap mattresses.
Recently a friend told me about an internet show called “Ikea Heights,” a mystery/comedy/soap opera that is filmed in the Burbank, California, Ikea, using the store's displays as sets, without the permission or knowledge of the store's management. The show is extremely silly. You have to assume that the Ikea management knows what's going on by now, but fans can hope that Ikea sees the show as free advertising and will not put a stop to filming. David Seger, the man behind the series, says there will be a new episode toward the end of this month. You can see the show at
Back to our tourism. Sonya and I found the Ikea mattress department, and along with a few other customers tried out mattresses. One or two were okay. Most were for people much younger and more fit than someone our age.
We headed off to the Southcenter Costco, which, like Ikea, is a huge place, but unlike Ikea, with its winding layout that intentionally disorients you, is wide open so you can see how big it is. We learned that there were no mattresses at Costco that day, which was a disappointment. The Christmas decorations were in, but that was just depressing. We walked out without buying a thing.
That shot our energy for the day and we wandered home.
Tuesday we shopped Vashon – Granny's Attic, of course, and various collectible shops. In a bit of shameless booster-ism I will say that shopping on Vashon is much more fun than shopping ashore. Takes less time and energy, you get to see your friends, and you don't have to get in line for a ferry to go home.
Wednesday we went to Seattle because I had a cardiologist appointment. Don't panic. It was just a check up to see how I'm doing, and I'm doing well, thank you. After that we went to Kerry Park up on Queen Anne Hill to have a picnic lunch Sonya had prepared, and soak in the view. The view has changed since I first saw it in 1972 – many tall buildings have grown up in downtown – but it remains breathtaking, looking out over the city and Elliott Bay. It was a warm and hazy day and Mt. Rainier was not visible. You'd think something that big would be a lot harder to hide.
After our scenic picnic I took Sonya to a bead store up on Stone Way. Sonya loves beads, and makes jewelry, so this stop was a hit.
After the bead store I took Sonya to see the troll under the bridge in Fremont, and down the hill to see the statue of Lenin, and then circled around to go by “Waiting for the Interurban,” then across the Fremont Bridge and around Queen Anne on Westlake, pointing in the general direction of the “Sleepless in Seattle” house which can't be seen whizzing by on the road, and from there back to the ferry.
Thursday we hit Granny's one last time. Sonya loves Granny's. Then I took Sonya to the ferry and wished her a good trip home on the train.
It was fun being a tourist with Sonya for a few days. Fun, and exhausting. Now I'm ready to go back to unpacking moving boxes. We'll get moved in again some day. One box at a time, friends, one box at a time, with occasional breaks for tourism.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Care Reform: Now Is a Good Time

President Obama is trying to pass health care reform. To many of us, this seems like a no-brainer. Why doesn't America take care of its people at least as well as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and The United Kingdom?
People in this country are suffering medically, financially, and emotionally, because we do not as a nation take care of our own. I have heard people screaming about socialism because national health care is being proposed. I beg to differ.
Socialism, like Christianity, is an ideal to which many have aspired but few have put into practice. I believe that people are not afraid of socialism. They don't have the first idea what socialism is. They are afraid of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is an idea that has been put into practice many times, frequently by people who have claimed to be socialists, and we have seen that we do not like it.
Threatening people with socialism is an old bleat, and for some reason, to some people, still an effective one. People toss the word “socialism” around like PETA members throw red paint.
Speaking of red, when did Republicans become red? To an older person like me, who remembers when being accused of being red was a vile slander that could ruin a person's business and life, this whole “red is conservative” thing is confusing. However, I do feel a certain perverse joy in thinking of someone as one of them Republican pinkos.
But I digress.
I have heard people saying that if this socialized medicine scheme goes through we will not be able to choose our own doctors. This is an empty threat to me – we had to stop going to our doctor because my husband got health insurance at work and our doctor did not have a contract with that company. The doctor I go to now is a great doctor and the nurse practitioners in his office are great, and it is more than great to have health insurance, but it would have been nice to keep seeing the doctor with whom we had a history and whom we trusted.
If we were rich we could. We could buy health insurance from some one who contracted with our doctor, or we could pay medical expenses out of pocket. There are always options for the rich.
Are you rich? If the answer is “yes,” then, hey, no worries. For the rest of us – worries.
I wish President Obama well with health care reform. It's a long time coming. As a country we are heartless bastards about our poor, our hungry, our widows and orphans, our handicapped, our elderly, our veterans, our children. We pay great lip service to ideals of respecting and caring for the weak, the heroic, the young, and the indigent, but in fact we allow people to languish in poverty, to starve, go homeless, and die without giving them a thought.
See, it's like taking care of your teeth. Say you go through life expecting your teeth to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and take care of themselves. You never brush, you never floss, you never go to the dentist. If you're lucky, your teeth survive. It is more likely that your teeth will go bad. You'll end up with a sick, stinky mouth and a few dingy, ugly teeth that can no longer do for you what teeth are supposed to do. The health of your entire body will suffer.
That's what I'm saying here. The country that does not take care of its own is not a healthy country, and has cultural bad breath.
Support health care reform. It's a no-brainer. Even if you don't care about yourself, you might have children or grand children you care about. Do it for them.
And now I feel an urge to brush my teeth.