Visions of Spring -- 01/09/04

Last Saturday in an e-mail discussion with Doug I commented that although the beginning of January brings a crop of tax forms from the IRS, in only a few weeks our mailboxes would begin to fill with seed catalogs.

An hour or so later I went out to our mailbox and found a catalog from Kitchen Garden Seeds!

That night at bed time, instead of picking up a novel I had just started, I began reading through the seed catalog, visions of spring dancing in my head... and spring is followed by summer... hmmm, lettuce... I'm very big on Romaine lettuce, it's my main crop for salads, but I like to have one or two other kinds of lettuce plus other salad material, maybe some radicchio, maybe a mesclun mix, maybe a red oak leaf lettuce... and various vegetables, some tomatoes, some zucchini, maybe some peas or beans... herbs (chives and parsley every year, I wonder what else this year?)... I have what has been a nice patch of asparagus, had very good crops three or four years in a row, but two years ago had some serious insect problems just on the asparagus and this past year had a very meager crop.

Ah, if only I had an acre or two for my garden... so many seeds, not enough square feet...

Yesterday I received my Miller Nurseries catalog, the source of the blueberries and blackberries that Jill and I planted this past November. (And Nancy received a GardensAlive catalog.) I'm going to be driven to distraction when the main deluge of catalog arrives. And only six weeks until the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show (Nancy and I went this past year and the year before).


I switched health insurance plans for this year. For the past several years we had been using BlueCHiP (an HMO -- Blue Cross Coordinated Health Partners or something like that) but they have just put in a massive increase in premiums (while at the same time running an extensive advertising campaign about how they are keeping costs down so well that they have a twenty-one million dollar surplus they are going to return to their customers -- yeah, right) -- how massive an increase? It would cost me roughly an extra $2600 this year to keep the same coverage (that's not my share of the annual premium, that's how much my share would go up!) -- so I decided to switch to a different HMO -- United Healthcare -- which would cost roughly the same as I paid last year (although it will cost two dollars more per doctor visit and prescription drugs will also cost more, that increase is not likely to come close to twenty-six hundred dollars). The same doctor who was our primary care physician under BlueCHiP is also affiliated with United Healthcare and I selected him for our coverage.

So what's the point? Well, Jeremy was sick most of last week with some kind of upper respiratory thing -- cold, flu, whatever -- and he's still not feeling back to normal, etc. so he made a doctor's appointment for today. He just came back home to say that the insurance id card lists some other doctor (one we've never heard of) as primary care physician and that would make an office visit cost $50 instead of $17 (and he only had a twenty in his wallet) -- so I spent ten or twelve minutes navigating through telephone menus at United Healthcare until I finally got to a human being who (probably a customer service agent with enough experience to recognize a certain edge in a caller's voice? *grin*) was very helpful and polite and quickly changed the assignment of primary care physician and said new cards would be mailed and in the meanwhile just have the doctor's office call for confirmation.

grumble, grumble

Ah well, back to thoughts of spring.... and gardens... and ignore the fact that the current temperature is ten degrees (that's minus twelve or so for you folks who use kilograms and kilometers)... As I recently remarked to Wendy, I almost feel as if eight years of relatively mild Rhode Island winters (this is my ninth winter here) have turned me soft. I wonder if an upstate New York winter would seem too rough? Speaking of cold weather, I can remember a January about thirty years ago -- in fact, I think it was exactly thirty years ago -- spending a few days in Montreal, including attending a Bob Dylan concert, during some especially cold weather -- overnight lows one night were reported as twenty-five below zero in town, colder in the suburbs (and that's Fahrenheit... although isn't it somewhere around thirty below where the number is the same in both systems?) Got in my car to return home -- after my car had been parked on the street for three or four days of this kind of weather -- it would not start, not even turn over, just click click click. It was a standard transmission and I was parked on a bit of a hill, so I just got rolling, put it in gear and popped the clutch... but the street was too slippery with packed snow and the wheels would just lock up and slide instead of turning the engine over. Finally called a tow truck. The driver attached jumper cables. Still wouldn't start. So he said "Eet is perhaps monsieur ze 'ow you say? Ze startaire?" and he towed my car away. Fortunately for my limited funds, after spending the night parked inside the (relatively) warm repair garage, in the morning the car started right up, so it only cost me for the towing.

I guess I've absorbed enough of your web-browsing time for today.

Stay warm!

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