Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breaking All Heat Records

Today it hit 102 degrees F. in Seattle, breaking all previous heat records since we began recording the temps in 1861. In truth, the temps have soared much higher in outlying areas. It hit 106 in the shade at my place today, the hottest weather I've ever encountered in Washington State in 62 years.

I'm hosing down the dogs several times a day. In fact, when Asterisk hears me using the garden hose, she comes running. She likes to run through the spray, biting at the water. Unfortunately, it's so hot that the dogs dry off quickly. I may just put a small sprinkler in the side yard and let the dogs run through it at will.

Here are some more pictures of Asterisk playing in the water.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Running Through the Sprinkler

See that thermometer on the left? It's on my front porch, and I took the picture today, 7-27-09 at 4:29 p.m. It's 99 degrees Farenheit in the shade.

Here in the Pacific NW, few of us have air conditioning, because this kind of weather is rare. We've been having weeks and weeks of temps in the 80s and 90s, and this week they're predicting we'll break 100. There's an Extreme Weather Advisory and an Air Stagnation Alert in our area.
It's been so hot and dry that drought-resistant plants are dying. Today when I went to clean out the horses' water trough, I found a dead squirrel floating in the water. Obviously he'd tried to get some water and fell in and couldn't get out again.

How does one stay cool in such hot weather? Well, if you're a 9-month-old Boxer pup named Asterisk, you run through the sprinkler. Or you lie down in your very own kiddy wading pool and then roll onto your back, legs spread, begging for tummy rubs. Or you chase the spray from the garden hose, biting at the water and ignoring the spray blasting you in the face.

As you can see by the pictures, Asterisk knows how to stay cool and hydrated.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cats in the Dog House

It got up to 96 degrees today, and I checked the back porch to see how my two cats were doing in this heat. They have a bed on a small table on the back porch, and that's the place where they hang out most of the day. They weren't there. But I heard a meowed greeting. It took a minute to realize that both cats were sacked out in comfort in the igloo-type dog house! I don't know if it was cooler in there, but the cats seemed quite comfortable. They looked so funny that I just had to take a picture of them!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Something's Wrong With our Healthcare System

This is a rant. I'm not going to get all political on you, but I really must say a few words about the state of the healthcare system and the outrageous prices they charge.

Last week I made an appointment to have a complete eye exam. They told me it would cost $256 and I'd have to wait 3 weeks. Ouch! I will also need new frames (I stepped on mine) and lenses. A look at their cheaper frames showed a range of $169-$399. The lower priced ones were butt-ugly, so I'd probably end up with something in the $250-$300 range. (I'd like to know how anyone can justify charging $400 and more for an ounce or two of colored plastic! This makes me very mad.)

And then there are the lenses. I have reflection-free, "no-lines" trifocals. Add another $200-$300. So, $256 for the exam, $250 for frames, and $250 for lenses. Total: $765! (and that's conservative)

Today I went to Costco and found out I can get a complete eye exam there for--get this--$65. Frames will cost me $75. The only price I don't know is the cost of lenses, but knowing Costco, it will be half what I'd pay elsewhere. So I made an appointment at Costco and will cancel the other one. Instead of paying $756 out of pocket, I'll be paying $265. That's a difference of $491. Oh, and I didn't have to wait 3 weeks like at the other place. I'm going in tomorrow at noon.

I won't even go into all the hassle I've had with the incredibly bureaucratic and ridiculously inefficient medical doctor I'm seeing for various issues. I'm on Basic Health, a state-subsidized medical plan for low income people. The plan itself is a good one, but the doctor they appointed for me sucks. It's at a modern community health clinic and they are the most inefficient thing I've ever seen. My doctor has misdiagnosed every thing I've seen her for but one. She never treats me for anything, instead referring me to a specialist. Referrals are supposed to take 1-2 weeks. In truth, I wait 1-4 months for referrals.

I waited 4 months, in serious pain, for a referral to a podiatrist for my feet. I waited 6 weeks for a referral to an ob/gyn after my doc said I had a prolapsed uterus. (As usual, she was wrong--it was something else entirely.) I waited several weeks for a referral to a surgeon to have a fingernail removed because she said I had a fungus. Turns out she was wrong. No fungus, but arthritis, and the surgeon said I needed meds, not surgery.

I waited 6 weeks for a referral to a specialist because of debilitating thigh pain. And now I've waited 4 weeks for a referral to physical therapy for the same issue. While I wait, I'm in severe pain.

Somebody needs to do a performance audit of the community health clinic I go to. These people are seriously stupid. There's a very good chance I'll be kicked off Basic Health because they are in financial trouble due to the bad economy, and they are looking to dump about 80,000 subscribers--despite the fact we're low income and qualify for BH. If I get kicked off, I'm going to submit a report on the atrocious care I've received the past 3 years. If I don't get kicked off (it'll be a miracle) I'm going to ask if I can change doctors.

In the meantime, our entire medical system needs a serious overhaul.

End of rant. My thigh is killing me. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Recipe: Layered Pineapple Pound Cake

I've been cleaning out and organizing my recipes, and came across this one that I'd clipped from a magazine but never tried. I needed a simple dessert for the 4th of July BBQ that was supposed to be held at my house (and which subsequently got canceled when I came down with a miserable cold--my first in 2 years).

This recipe is dead simple, and absolutely delicious. It came from a Dole Pineapple advertisement and was originally called Dole Golden Layer Cake, but I don't feel that conveys a very good description, so I renamed it. You can name it whatever you want.

Here's the recipe:

1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in juice
1 carton (8 oz) Cool Whip
1 pkg (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding
1 pkg (16 oz family size) frozen pound cake, thawed
1/3 cup almond-flavored liqueur, or 1/3 c. pineapple juice and 1/2 tsp. almond extract (I didn't have pineapple juice, so used orange juice)
Optional garnish: sliced pineapple; 1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Combine undrained pineapple, Cool Whip, and pudding mix. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut cake lenghtwise in thirds. Drizzle with liqueur. Spread one-third pudding mixture over bottom layer of cake. Top with second layer. Repeat layering, ending with pudding. Chill 30 mins. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds and garnish with pineapple slices, if desired. Serves 12. Prep time: 15 mins.