July 2017

First Things First, because our democracy is at stake. New York Times Commentor Joanne DavisB from St. Louis put it better than I ever could:

Donald Trump is uniquely ill-suited to and unqualified for the Presidency. He is temperamentally unfit, perhaps to the point of mental illness; he is a studiously ignorant opportunist with no discernible moral compass.

Now that I’ve done what any other patriot would do, I can get back to the pure drivel which is this blog.

Even though it is unbearably hot here on the north shore of Long Island this week — 90 degrees with 94% humidity, which means that the air here is as heavy as if you were wearing a Winter coat made of the itchiest wool and spun glass blend you can imagine — I modeled my re-purposed beachwear thingy from last week, which originally looked like this (more was not pink):

But I cut off the hoodie, nixed the weird sleeve-holders, and sheared the hem to non-shirttail length:

I have been wearing this top every day since I “made” it. And I must say that since I’ve become a Fashion Designer, I’ve been a lot less bored with myself. Lately, I’ve been wondering if Boredom is one of the least inspected aspects of being human, because I suspect that Being Bored is a HUGE part of being human that nobody ever wants to talk about. I, for one, find myself Being Bored at least 20 times a day. Is that just me?

Ah, but then I got something in the mail that was a complete surprise this week, which is an increasingly more rare event these days. I pity the kids who are growing up toady who do not know what it is to anticipate the delivery of the daily mail — love letters, post cards with foreign post marks, a brown paper package wrapped up in string, etc.

But I digress.

I got a carton of books from my Korean publisher:

This is Le Road Trip as it will be read in South Korea. I like that they chose to put les escargot on the cover. And the cats. I am dying to know if that bundle of symbols at the bottom edge is my name. I would love to write my name in Korean!

I have one last story to tell you today, about a girl who did not die from rabies but was still very, very annoyed:

I knew what I was doing: I had taken the precaution of draping an old Winter coat over the raccoon before I tried to lift it off the fence in my backyard. It was the middle of February, and the raccoon had been sitting on top of an old wire fence in my backyard all morning. I was sure he’d gotten his foot caught in it, somehow, and I was determined to set him free. So I persuaded my husband to traipse out in the snow with me and distract the old varmint while I attempted to release him. In other words, I HAD A FOOLPROOF PLAN.Rabies is 99.999% fatal. It is also 100% vaccine-preventable. 95% of all rabies incidents occur in Africa and Asia. 95% of those deaths are caused by domestic dogs that have not been vaccinated against the disease. So if you are heading out for a dive into the dog pounds of Africa or Asia, it is not a bad idea to get a human rabies vaccination before you go (it’s good for 2 years), which will cost you (in America) anywhere from $165 to $395.

If, however, the raccoon that you are trying to lift off a fence in your backyard bites through the Winter coat and sinks his teeth into your middle finger, the cost to prevent rabies retroactively (Is that a thing? “Prevent retroactively“?) costs a whole lot more.

In my case, on that February morning, the bill came to $21,429.00

First of all, as you can see, just walking into the Emergency Room costs $1,600.

I refused the bed they offered me, but I did let them weigh me and take my blood pressure, and I answered a few questions about my current medications and history of cancer (none, and none). It was about 10 minutes of admin.

Four hours later, the hospital pharmacy had finally sent the vials of fluid that had been requested four hours previously. As you can see, the rabies vaccine itself cost $2,092. The Immune Gobulin is given to provide rapid protection until the rabies vaccine becomes effective, and it  cost $16,628. (I am currently objecting to the note that 4 units of 150 — 600 units — were billed; I believe that the dose for my weight would have been all of 80 units. I await a call back from a manager of records to get to the bottom of this.)

The diphtheria / pertussis shot is standard treatment for dog bite wounds — you can see that it cost $289 to get the vial, and then it cost $399 to have a nurse shoot it (in England they call it jabbed) into my arm.

The “Vaccine Other” charge of $236 is anyone’s guess.

The Drug Req Self Adm charge of $29 is for one amoxicillin pill (in England they call it a tablet) that I put in my mouth and swallowed all by myself.

The last charge for $347 for Tx Svcs General must be for when I refused to have a X-ray of the raccoon bite.

So that’s how this visit to the ER cost $21,629. However, because I have private health insurance, this hospital and my insurance provider have already contracted set fees for this kind of service and my good old insurance company is contracted to only pay $7,045 to have me not die of rabies.

The difference between the $21,629 that the hospital wants, and the $7,045 that my insurance company has pay, is “written off” as a credit, or a tax deduction, I don’t know.

If I were uninsured but gainfully employed or owned a house or a car, I would probably be responsible for the whole $21,629, for which they can (and probably would) either sue me or sic a collections agency on me. If I were dead broke or here illegally, the taxpayers would pick up the bill.

My question is, if the hospital and my insurance company have agreed that this service of saving dumbshit raccoon saviors from dying from rabies costs $7,045, why does the hospital rack up charges of $21,629? If the service was truly worth $21,629, why didn’t the hospital negotiate for that price, instead of cutting their cost by a whopping  78%??? Shouldn’t a hospital bill reflect their actual costs of care???

P.S. I have to pay a $200 deductible, which the hospital they will get when they explain their bullshit charge of  $16,628.

It’s a whole other story about how many phone calls I had to make to get this info, between me and Billings, Montana and etc., but it’s not very interesting.

Have a wonderful weekend, my Wonder Ones, and stay cool. Our dear Commentor Kirra from Down Under has left our shores to return to “Wintery Australia”, and all we can say is TAKE ME WITH YOU.

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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, der Drumpf Jr.

Christmas has come early!

Sung to the tune of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas: (I prefer the Johny Mathis version.)

It’s beginning to look a lot like impeachment!

This is how we know:

Take a look at der Junior Drumpf’s

Latest e-mail dump

With the treasonous Russian evidence aglow!

It’s beginning to look so obvious —

criminal charges fit.

POTUS can huff and puff but our nation will call his bluff cuz

all der Drumpfs are shits!

But, Oh Donald, you sordid pathetic half-wit, I could almost love you today — your destined come-uppance will be a pure delight to watch and lo, How I will dote on you, you festering bung hole of a human, all the minutes and days of your demise.

Der Trumpf is in France this week. I took the precaution of emailing my French friends:

I know for a fact that Donald Drumpf is going to do or say something stupid and offensive to the great French people. I am sending you my deepest apologies in advance. 

So, as he met the French President and his wife, Brigitte Macron, on Thursday, der Drumpf said to her: “You’re in such good shape!”

And since you asked, No, being right about der Drumpf never gets boring.

Hello there. If you are reading this blog for the first time, Welcome; we are all deep thinkers here, ponderers of all matters ontological  and cosmological and stuff. In fact, last week we here were discussing Chomsky’s theory of language acquisition re: Skinner’s behavioral paradigms, so if you’re new to VivianWorld you might want to brush up on the subject here. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

OK. Now that it’s just you and me, faithful Dear Readers, let’s digress to our regularly scheduled blog trivialities.

I am not a fan of bad posture. So I was shocked — shocked — when I saw this picture that Top Cat took of me in my 13th Wedding Anniversary dress last week:

I thought I’d been standing up straight so imagine my horror when I saw this stoop-shouldered crone. The shock of seeing your true self, and all. So I asked my dear Top Cat, my darling  husband of 13 rotations around the sun, to re-take it:

A little too “Kardashian on an imaginary red carpet pose”, but it’s an improvement over the schlub-slouch in the previous pic. Let this be a reminder, Dear Readers, that when in doubt, throw your shoulders back and take 5 years off your LBD.

 

Being as I am not currently in the process of writing a damn book I am filling up my time with various new hobbies, one being shopping. Because I have a problem that needs solving: I am 61 years old and I don’t have a go-to Sumer Look; a uniform, a style; a polished casual fashion statement that is “Me” that I can wear on these long hot Summer days and look appropriate.

Me in the backyard. This is not an outfit that I would wear in pubic. Well, actually, it IS an outfit that I’ve worn in public, but I’m not proud of that. P.S. Taffy is not dead. He is sleeping.

I want to be cool, and “cool”; but nothing so flimsy or sheer that I have to wear a bra (right?). I want to look tidy, and my age, and I want pockets. I love pockets. If there are zippers, the zippers have to be non-decorative — they have to function as fasteners between two meaningful parts of the garment. I don’t want gratuitous zippers.

I want solid colors, simple lines, and NO CAPRI PANTS.

I hate to break it to you, but no one looks good in capri pants.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this Summer the stores are bursting with tops and dresses that feature an off-the-shoulder neckline, or weird sleeves that have the shoulders cut out so as to appear to have random scraps of fabric attached at the armpit. I wasn’t that keen on this look the first time it cycled around, back in the 1970s, and I am no fonder of it now that I’ve aged out of the Rock Chick esthetic.

NO.

HELL no.

So after a quick walk through Lord & Taylor’s because I hate shopping spending many hours investigating the offerings at the mall, I have come to the conclusion that I will have to design my own clothes,since clothing manufacturers don’t seem to be looking out for women my age. But, being as I do not know the first thing about clothes-making, what I plan to do is: Buy stuff that is already made and alter it. I don’t care if I have to “marry” two separate pieces into one, or if I have to cut down a dress, or even if I have to re-purpose a bathrobe. I’m open to any and all possibilities.

Starting at the T J Maax up the road, where I can begin my experiments in Fashion Deconstruction with cheaper clothes, I found a rack of “CoverUps”, a category of clothing that I did not know existed. [FYI: It’s beachwear.] Unlike what is on the regular racks, these colors are fun, the fabrics are sturdy but lightweight , and the styles are a bit dopey — which is fine by me! They are made large so as to be easy on/easy off, which means that you have lots of material to play around with when you make your alterations.

I found this:

Well, to be honest, I did’t find this particular piece; I found one like it in grey linen that I didn’t take a photo of. Because this is it BEFORE, when it had a draw-string hoodie (nobody my age should wear a hoodie, I’m just saying) and it had a button thing on the sleeve that let you roll it up, and it had very long shirt tails in the front and back that made it look almost like a dress.

This is it in blue:

I saw this and I thought, all I have to do was cut off the hoodie, remove the button-thing on the sleeves, cut off those damn shirt tails front and back and I might have something I could wear. I also wish I could take it in on the side seams, but that is beyond my skills.

As of now, I’m halfway done with my re-model. I’ll show you the results next week, when I premiere my New Look.

Dear Readers, in addition to fashion, I am currently obsessed with an Instagram account for Ringing Rocks Jewelry at https://www.instagram.com/ringingrocksjewelry/.

Ringing Rocks is a real thing, and jeweler Christine Sakos incorporates something of their mysterious sound waves into her designs. ou will find her jewelry fascinating, as her pieces reflect a wondrous and very personal mythology that incorporates nature, unseen energies, shades and shadows from the Pennsylvania forest she calls home, and RAISING MOTHS:

By raising these spectacular Luna moths, Christina is doing her noble  best to keep our climate-threatened native species from disappearing — a loss that would make our Summer nights so ordinary, so beige. She also raises Cecropias, North America’s largest moth.

I am obsessed with checking in on her updates on the latest brood of beauties. Drop in, sign up, and Follow Christine if you need a little — a lot — of real-world magic in your life. Support the moths! Tell your friends!  Watch Christine save the future, one moth at a time!

You can also read her blog and see her caterpillars and her astounding jewelry at https://www.ringingrocksjewelry.com.

Happy Bastille Day, mes chers.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

You are ALL high quality people.

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England, America, and Australia in the house! The “house” being New York City’s oldest and last soda fountain, the Lexington Candy Shop on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan . . . 

. . . and the representatives of the English-speaking world being (from left to right): our own Dear Commentor Elizabeth (from London) , Moi (from Missoula, Montana of these United States), and the holder of the title of our Longest Distance Dear Commentor, who you know and love as Kirra (from Adelaide). This is us on our culinary leg of our cultural tour of NYC last week, after stopping at a typical New York coffee shop for lunch . . .

. . . before fetching up at the Lexington fora  dessert of New York delicacies — egg creams and malted milks. Note to Kirra: I should have explained that a malted milk is like a liquid Tim Tams.

We had begun our ramble through the Isle of Manhattan at the Jewish Museum on 92nd Street to see the Florine Stettheimer exhibit. I love her work and this show is the largest ever gathering of her paintings and costume designs.

I love that her pictures are about something, most usually her life as a wealthy, sophisticated New Yorker with friends from all over the art and theater world.

Her use of color is exciting — she does not shy away from committing herself to richness (above) or froth (see: portrait of her sister).  I love that she uses framing devices such as drapes — which appear in the picture plane as if from no where — and gets away with it! And it takes supreme control over narrative to put in the large quantities of information that she succeeds in putting in her paintings:

See how there is a LOT going on, but you the viewer don’t feel overwhelmed, confused, or disgusted? [cough * Hieronymus Bosch * cough]

I also like how she doesn’t overlap any of her figures as if she were a primitive/outsider painter, which she is not.

If I painted, I would paint like Florine Stettheimer. Which is not to say that I won’t be knocking off some of her brilliant ideas in the future — I steal from the best.

In fact, there is one picture I’m already dying to paint. It’s about something that Kirra told me about her daily life in Adelaide (Australia). She happened to mention, as if it’s just one of those normal things you get used to when you’re  a music teacher in Adelaide (Australia), that the school where she teaches is situated on a nice plot of land that has a nice grove of eucalyptus trees on it. And, oh, yeah, those trees are full of koala bears, which you can see every time you look up.

Mind you, Kirra has been a Dear Reader her for a few years now, and we’d been chatting in person in New York for about 2 hours before she happened to mention this thing about the koala bears. Now, if that had been me, I’d be all, “Hello there, My name is Kirra and I am surrounded by koala bears at work, that’s right, KOALA BEARS, so yeah, my life’s pretty awesome compared to yours.” I mean, being surrounded by koala bears would be something people would know about me within the first 5 seconds of our meeting. KOALA BEARS, people.

Yes, I definitely want to paint a forest of koala bear-bearing eucalyptus trees, with me in the middle, like Carie Stetheimer,  with a big fat smile on my face.

Apart from the breath taking news that there are people in the world who get to go to work in a koala forest, the rest of our Modern English Summit passed in companionable merriness as we walked down 5th Ave, past the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum with its staircase . . .

. . . which is famous for something but I can’t remember what. And we strolled past the Guggenheim . . .

. . . and then we took a bus down 5th Ave. to the Public Library:

Kirra and her husband Neil headed on to Boston, thence to Ann Arbor — I hope this is just the first of many return visits, depending on der Drumpf not being the harbinger of the End Times that he seems to be.

One pic, thousand words, eh? Because I am running out of words to deal with the human turd that is der Drumpf. But thanks to Commenters Fan in Vt and Vicki in Michigan, one word I won’t use is “girly“. I get it.

I also want to apologize to pigs. Calling der Drumpf a pig is an insult to pigs, animals that I like very much.

Melissa: Mike Nesmith’s mother invented Liquid Paper, and she made pots of money from it. Mr. Nesmith writes quite movingly about his relationship with his mother, which had its ups and downs. He was her only child. Mr. Nesmith also made a lot of moola on his own.

Alex: You saw the Monkees IN CONCERT?! What a lucky girl. You must have had nice parents, ones who actually noticed what was important to you.

Book news: Well, my old publishers, Bloomsbury, don’t get my new book. Which is understandable, since it’s a one of a kind thing: I even asked my agent if we could put it  out in the world without a title. . . she said that was a stupid idea. NOT IN SO MANY WORDS, mind you; but I got the impression that it’s a thought right up there with rescuing a raccoon in my backyard.

So now I have to do something I haven’t had to do in ten years: I have to sell myself to a new house. This is the worst: it’s like going on a job interview and a date at the same time. Ew.

Well, with that in mind, you know that I’ll be enjoying extra big cocktails this weekend.

Nobody here has to sell themselves to me: You are the finest Dear Readers any blog can have. Thank you all.

Here’s to You!

**THIS JUST IN**

I just got a text from a fellow cat rescuer: She has three babies ready for forever homes! These boys were found with their feral mother and have been living with a foster mother (and mama cat) and raised to be cuddly, calm little critters that would make great lap cats.

They are currently here on the North Shore of Long Island . . .

. . . but these fellas are willing to relocate out of state!

If you need more info, just leave me a comment —

— and one, two, or three of these golden fluff balls could be yours.

 

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