Friday, November 30, 2012

Fly on the Wall in the Oval Office on November 29, 2012

Mittsy: Oh, Barackie, can I sit in the Chair?

President Obama:  Please don't call me Barackie.  Only Michelle can call me Barackie.  And NO, you cannot sit it the Chair.

Mittsy: Oh, come on, Barack, no one will know.  We're behind closed doors.  It's been my dream.  That's the only reason I accepted your invitation.  Please, please, pretty please.

President Obama:  Look, Mitt.  I won, and the Chair is mine and I can't let you sit in it.  But if you must, I'll just stand over here and give you a minute or two to TALK TO IT.  You and Clint can compare notes.

Mittsy:  Oh, Barack, you are cruel.  Are you sure that the turkey chili we're having for lunch isn't made with crow?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adventures in Health Care - My Liver

I hope that this topic does not become a regular feature here at RR.  At my age, anything is possible however.

Back in September of 2010, while vacationing in Provincetown, I had an annoying discomfort just below my right ribcage.   I had experienced this before and the discomfort always went away within a few days and wouldn't recur for months.  Out of sight out of mind, so to speak.  When it wasn't bothering me, I didn't give it a thought.

This was all pretty much according to my philosophy: if you wait a while, generally three months, the pain or ache or whatever goes away.   Like when I threw that rock out of the garden one day and my right shoulder kind of went "crunch".  I don't know if it was a sprain, or what, because I never got it looked at.  For a while I had to bring my left hand to the assistance of my right arm - just to hang my bathrobe on a hook.  I waited three months.  It got a little better, but not much.  I waited another three months.  It would get a bit better, then worse.  Well, it took about two years more and it's as good as new.  OK, so the three month rule doesn't always apply.

So with the pain in my side, I figured.

During my yearly physical back in November, 2011, the doc asked if there was anything that I was concerned about.  I started to say, "No, nothing."  But then I figured, what the hell, I'll tell her.  Well I mentioned three things.  One was an infection that started with a hangnail on my left middle finger;  the second was the discomfort under my rib cage and the third was a sinus problem.

Well, I guess the doc now had something to do.  She prescribed an anti-biotic for the finger and made referrals for the ache in my side and sinus problem.  So began my adventure in health care.  I  am fortunate that my complaints were minor in comparison to people with real health issues.

To make two long stories short, the hang nail was finally cured around July or August of this year 2012 after three courses of two different antibiotics and a surgical lancing which was not done by my primary care physician, but by a surgeon and which came with a hefty bill to the insurance company.  I could have done it myself with a new single edge razor.  So, even with medical care, my hang nail took about nine months to cure.  My fingernail still has scars from the infection.

The sinus problem was dealt with by an Ear-Nose-Throat Doc and Flo-nase.  Knowing that my insurance is crap, I had verified several times that the Doc accepted my insurance and even had the receptionist write that on my co-pay receipt.  Turned out, the receptionist called me at home later to say I could not come back for a follow-up visit because they did not, in fact, take my insurance at that office.  Good thing the sinus problem cleared up with the flo-nase.

The third story - the pain in my right side, began with blood work and a referral for ultrasound of my gall bladder.  The gall bladder was OK, and the blood tests were good except one showed an auto-immune antibody for smooth muscle - the liver - which might indicate that my body was attacking my liver, or so I understood.

So Primary Doc sends me for a MRI and to a rheumatologist because they deal with auto-immune diseases.  The MRI showed an enlarged liver.

It took a couple of months to get an appointment with the rheumatologist.  The rheumatologist said "I don't know why you were referred to me, you need to see a hepatologist - a liver specialist."  But I still had to pay my co-pay for the rheumatologist, of course.

That referral to the liver doctor took another three weeks.  I had more blood tests.  More co-pays and something called "co-insurance".  The hepatologist said, "Much ado about nothing, but I want to do some more blood tests."  By the time the blood tests came back, I was experiencing a discomfort lower in the right side of my abdomen and my checkbook.  I was thinking I'd developed a hernia because one day when I had bent over it felt like my innards had turned inside out.

About four weeks later the hepatologist said the blood test were normal, except for high triglycerides, which I've always had.  I was assured that I probably did not have a hernia, but that I should have a liver biopsy.

That took about another four weeks to schedule.  I had to have more blood tests and co-pays first.

So today, a year after I told my Doc that I had some discomfort in the area below my right ribcage, I had a liver biopsy.

I would not recommend having one, just for fun.

The hepatologist was very good, explained everything during the procedure and was very accurate and precise.  I tried to relax during the procedure by pretending to be One With The Universe.  After the somewhat painful local anesthesia, the actual needle insertion was instantaneous and hardly felt. But there was an immediate pain as soon as the needle had done its job, like being punched in the gut.

It made me think how painful it must be to be shot with a bullet or stabbed in the gut with a knife.  And how there is way too much violence on TV.  And how people should not do such things to others.  I was on a minimal dose of pain medication.

The recovery required two hours laying on my right side to prevent internal bleeding.  I had a good dose of  IV pain medication that was very nice, but I couldn't help wondering if the insurance would cover it.  I had peed at 8 AM.  The procedure and first two hours in recovery brought me to 12 noon.  They were dripping a quart of saline by IV into my vein during that time and if you don't think I had to pee by 10:30 AM, you'd be wrong.  The nurse brought in the "urinal".

Leon says that the moon and stars must align for me to pee in a public place.  There was no way my faucet would open while laying on my side, especially with all the hustle and bustle just beyond the curtain and the nurse waiting for a result.  I can't pee under duress, like if someone is waiting to use the urinal I'm trying to use at the Pennsylvania rest area after three hours on the road -  even with a bladder ready to burst.

I tried four different times between 10:30 and noon.  Finally at noon I was allowed to sit upright and I scooched off the bed, against orders, to pee standing up - the way nature intended.  Then I begged for a blueberry muffin and orange juice.  I was wondering if that would be added to the bill for charges the insurance would not cover: Blueberry muffin, $15.98, Orange juice, $9.47.

So now I must wait a week or two for the biopsy results.  And for the hospital bill for what the insurance didn't pay.  That will be a whole different adventure.

P.S. Leon took pictures of me in the recovery room on his phone, but it is an old phone, not at all smart, and we need to figure out how to download the photos to the computer.  So no pics on this post for  now.  Maybe tomorrow, if I don't look like a 64 year old who's just had a liver biopsy.

UPDATE: Results of the biopsy showed only a fatty liver - something like fois gras before being paté.
I should eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet and lose weight.  That was it.  I guess that means little or no cheese or dairy, not bacon or sausage, little or no pasta or bread and definitely no cookies (yeah, right) no occasional glass of wine or beer.  Una cena senza vino (pasta, pane, biscotti, gelato, formaggio) e come una giornata senza sole.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Thanksgiving Walk by the Beach

Leon and I were at Mercy Center today visiting my Sis.  It was just the three of us as the others who  live with her were off with families. Sis hasn't been feeling well, so wasn't up for traveling to our house.  And my brother was doing Thanksgiving with in-laws.  So, I cooked a turkey yesterday and we packed up turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, gravy, butternut squash, sweet potato, and store bought apple pie for our Thanksgiving dinner at her place.
For more pics of Benni see his blog
She is very fortunate to get to live here in her "retirement" years.  She lives in a house on the grounds - see the one with the hydrangeas below.

After Thanksgiving Dinner and before dessert, Leon and I took Benni for a walk around the grounds.

Mercy Retreat and Conference Center is on the beach and they were fortunate that they did not get much damage from hurricane Sandy.  Just a small part of the beach was washed out.

The spot is very serene and a great place to walk and contemplate.  Which is what people go there to do mostly.  It was quite deserted today as there were no programs going on.

So it was definitely serene and contemplative today.

My Honey, Contemplating Dessert

Dried Hydrangeas

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

And you all expected a picture of a turkey!
Cranberry in the Wild
And a few more...they are low growing plants, not really bushes.  The bog aspect comes in only during the harvest when they flood the "bog" to skim off the floating cranberries.
Benni Encountering Cranberries For The First Time 
Cranberry Field in the Province Lands National Seashore

Cubby's Questions:

Do you travel or stay local? Family or Friends? Host or Guest?  Went to Sis's at the shore about 45 miles.  Just Leon, Sis and me.  I cooked the Turkey meal yesterday and packaged it up to reheat there. 
Parade: Love it? Leave it? Never let it go? Saw part of the Parade on reruns, later in the PM.  Boring. 
Favorite Food?  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, butternut squash, sweet potato - love it all. This year, due to low turnout, I skipped the fennel and mushooms in bechamel and the rutabaga.  I also had a store bought pie, ugh.
Favorite holiday movie or do you watch football?  No movie, NO football.  We took a nice walk on the beach. 
If you do holiday decorations, for which holiday and when?  Holiday decor...bah humbug.  Leon might do some lights. 
Bonus Question - People traditionally give thanks on Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Thankful for our health, for having a house that didn't get washed away, for being able to pay the bills and still have money to eat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Referral to Some Links

Just want to refer readers to this article on the National Defense Authorization Act.

I was reading a post by Gay Mystic on post election reflections and followed a link to Chris Hodges' article in which he basically vilifies Obama for defending this current military spending bill due to a provision allowing unconstitutional arrest and holding of anyone suspected of "substantially supporting" the enemy.  The vague language can put any journalist at risk with no recourse to the law or the courts.  In some extreme hypothetical, it could put any of us at risk, if we are deemed a threat.  There has been a law suit filed and one judge has ruled that the provisions in question are unconstitutional.  The DOJ (Obama Administration) is defending the law.  To some liberals his defense of this bill is the reason they did not vote for him and they think he is two-faced in offering a "liberal" face to the public while hiding his "fascist" face from the public.

What do readers think?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Writers' Workshop

Last night I did something I've never done before, well, maybe in a classroom, but there, only reluctantly.

Last night I read a chapter of my "memoir", a work in progress, at a the Bare Bones Cafe, right here in our town and in front of a small audience.  I am not a person who exudes self-confidence, so I was a little apprehensive.  But I did OK and felt positive about the experience.

I was one of five readers.  We are from a Writer's Group that I was invited to join last May.  The group has been very supportive.  We read our stuff to one another and offer critiques.

I feel very privileged to be a part of the group - the others are "real" writers who've been published.  I'm an amateur, but they have made me feel very welcomed and have been encouraging.

Leon took photos, but alas, he did not take photos of all five of us, mostly just me, so these photos are of "me" doing my reading, followed by what I read:

(c) 2012 Frank DeFrancesco, all Rights Reserved
(Names and events have been loosely disguised to confuse anyone who thinks I've written about them)

       ‘Dead Bob’, as my partner Lee and I would affectionately refer to Bob Windham after he died to distinguish him from the many other ‘Bobs’ we knew, was thoroughly gay.  He was delightfully gay.  He was unabashedly gay. 

       In addition to the Gay Married Men’s Group, Bob attended gay AA and gay Al-Anon meetings, not because of any problem with alcohol, but to cruise the guys.

       “I’m not an alcoholic,” he would protest, “I hardly even drink beer, but I go with my friend Eddie, for moral support.  Besides, the hottest guys are in AA.”

       Bob belonged to Integrity, the gay Episcopal group, and he volunteered on the Council for Sexual Minorities, which comprised several representatives from a number of local, more or less liberal churches.  He also volunteered as a group facilitator with the local Gay and Lesbian Young People’s Hartford support group – GLYPH - which I had been in charge of. 

       You might also find him occasionally at a Gay Pride Committee meeting and any other ad hoc committee that might form at the first inkling of a new legislative initiative affecting the rights of Connecticut’s gays and Lesbians.  If there was a gay march or demonstration, Bob was there.

       Since separating from his wife, Lori, some eight years prior, Bob threw himself wholeheartedly into gay adolescence.  Bob loved sex and talked about it often, kind of like a teenager who had just discovered his big brother’s copy of Playboy and pretends to have done a lot more than he did for real. 

       Bob was not a hunk by any stretch, but certainly not ugly.  He was about five-foot-six and had a slightly pudgy midriff, dirty blond hair that got in his eyes and an Irish-elfin face with a big toothy smile and twinkling eyes.  A single gold tooth added even more sparkle to his countenance.

       Bob was a packrat of sorts.  A borderline hoarder.   He did not have junk stacked in floor to ceiling piles like some hoarders often do, but he definitely had his OCD quirks. 

       A few years earlier, when we flew out to San Francisco with him and Carl, he brought at least ten pairs of sunglasses with him that he had purchased on sale.  “It was such a bargain, I couldn’t pass it up,” he explained, while he chuckled in that mischievous, innocent way he always did.  In addition to his regular luggage, Bob brought his carry-ons which consisted of seven or eight plastic shopping bags, filled with everything from the sunglasses to sweaters, candy bars, magazines, a walkman and a 5-inch black and white TV, “It was such a bargain,” was his refrain. 

       At the airport Bob said, “Let’s make sure we get on the plane first, so I can get all this stuff into the overheard compartments.”  We could maybe justify the ten pairs of sunglasses, but why Bob would need a mini-TV in California was anybody’s guess.

       Bob had been married to Lori, a woman he genuinely loved and had two daughters whom he cherished. For Bob it was the ‘Gay Married Men’s Group’ that helped with his coming out and supported him in telling his wife and daughters about his gay identity.  Even though he was amicably divorced, he remained active with the married men’s group.  I think Bob stayed with the group because, as he would often say, “Married men are so hot.”

       When Bob died of complications of AIDS in early 1996, his lover Carl, who did not live with him during the six or so years they were together, asked Lee and I to help go through his things and clean out his apartment.  Carl called to set the date a few weeks after the funeral and it was April when we finally had a free Saturday to help him with closing up Bob’s apartment.  
       We had agreed to meet Carl at Bob’s old place at 7 am on Saturday.  Lee and I drove over in Lee’s Isuzu Pup – the little pickup truck that guaranteed we got invited to help whenever a friend was moving or when someone bought furniture or firewood.

       When we arrived at the apartment Carl said, “Lori and the girls have already taken what they wanted of Bob’s, so take whatever you want, cuz I’m donating or throwing out whatever is left, no exceptions.”

       Amongst the stuff that Bob had collected were lots of skin magazines, mostly soft-core stuff like Blueboy, Honcho and Mandate, which were pretty tame by porn standards.  “But,” Bob always said, “I like reading the hot stories and the articles.”

       “Fran, don’t spend an hour going through porn,” Lee said, when he saw the gleam in my eye.  “We’re here to help Carl.”  

       This was merely a routine scolding from Lee, who has a knack for keeping me on task when tackling a big clean up job or a major home maintenance project.  Lee is almost fourteen years my junior, and we had been together for about eight years at the time, eight years into what I call the second half of the rest of my life.

       Lee and I had crossed paths on occasion, but we ‘officially’ met at a gay swimming hole in Vermont one August afternoon in 1988.  But that’s a whole other chapter.  I put aside the porn after picking out a few good men.
       Bob’s apartment was not neat but not disgustingly filthy either.  It was definitely lived-in with a laissez-faire approach to housekeeping - moderately cluttered with clothing, books, magazines, mail, bottles of vitamins and medications and his precious videotapes. 

       In contrast, his dresser drawers were packed full with neatly folded clothes, though long out of style and with the price tags still affixed, showing both the original price and the mark-down.  There were a half dozen sweaters, all of the same size and label, but of different colors, ten or more identical button down Western style plaid shirts, at least ten packages of tighty-whitey underwear and several six-packs of white crew socks, unopened.

       In his kitchen there were still a few dishes in the sink but the counters and appliances were visible and usable.  The fridge, however, would probably not have passed a health department inspection even when Bob was alive.  We always cringed when Bob would offer to bring a salad to one of the frequent potluck dinners at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. 

       “I brought a salad,” he would announce enthusiastically as he walked in with a large Tupperware bowl, “the lettuce and tomatoes were about to go bad, so I had to use them up.”  Those of us ‘in-the-know’ would usually avoid Bob’s salads.

         On weekends, Bob shared his two-bedroom, one bath apartment with his daughters, Sandy and Pam, and with Carl, of course.  The bathroom was cluttered with all sorts of feminine products, shampoos, beauty bars and various articles of young women’s intimate clothing.  We always teased Bob about his being a closet transvestite, based on what was on display in his bathroom. 

       “Oh, you guys.  Stop it.  But you never know!” he’d smile showing a gleaming gold tooth.

       Bob was Episcopalian; his lover, Carl Baccio, a mostly quiet, serious guy from a typical Italian-American family, was a self-described ‘lapsed’ Catholic.  He and Bob would attend the Integrity service at the Episcopal Church when Carl was at Bob’s for the weekend.  Carl had been ‘out’ since college but Bob ‘came out’ in his mid-thirties and was still somewhere in his gay adolescence.

       Bob was obsessed with old movies, recent movies, TV movies and TV specials and just about all other genres of TV entertainment.  Of course, this was before the world had ever heard of DVDs or other digital media.  Bob would program his VCR to the TV Guide schedule and record every movie or TV program that interested him, and carefully label and store the video tapes to view at some later date.  There had to be over a hundred tapes in the bookcase. 

       That later date when he planned to watch all those movies and taped TV shows never came.  I felt a sense of loss as I was going through his prized videos - knowing he had been admitted to the hospital less than two months ago with a sudden onset of pneumonia.  He remained there for several weeks while his immune system failed him entirely.   He died one night with Carl, his two daughters and his ex-wife all by his side. ......

... Continued... let me know if you want to read more.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

And A Very Merry Christmas To You Mittsey Scrooge

Well, I, for one, did not get any "gifts" from Obama and I voted for him nonetheless.

I think I earned my Social Security, my bank interest amounts to literally pennies per month, as I am retired/unemployed I pay a reduced rate for health insurance thanks to the State of Connecticut low-income health plan but that will go up soon when I must go on Medicare, and I pay my state and local sales and property taxes, etc.  So no "gifts" here.

I hope this insensitive and ignorant excuse for a man who ran for president for the Republican Party keeps on talking so his mouth will be so wide open that everyone who supported him can put their foot in.  My contempt for MR has only been enhanced with his "explanation" of why he lost the election.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanks to Russ at Blue Truck Red State for sharing this - I'd like to do the same.   Rachael Maddow is SPOT ON with her commentary.  Enjoy. (After the advertisement of course)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Sigh of Relief And A Funeral

Needless to say I am relieved at the outcome of Tuesday's election, both on the national and local levels. I am happy for President Obama, first for being re-elected and second for the opportunity to carry on the policies that got him elected in the first place.  I hope he is able to appoint some good Supreme Court justices and to get the obstructionist Republican House of Reps to move toward compromise and responsible governing.

I am most pleased that the scheme to make Obama a one-term president perpetrated by Republican members of the House and Senate by holding our government hostage in order to implement that plot was thwarted.   There is no place in this country for that kind of politics.  If they had succeeded, not only would it have been an embarrassment for the country and an insult to Obama, but it would have ushered in a new low for the US political establishment.

And of course, the fact that Maryland, Maine, Washington passed marriage equality measures and that Minnesota thwarted an anti-gay constitutional amendment was just icing on the cake.  History moving forward.

Yesterday I attended a funeral for my elderly aunt (she was 96).  Nellie was a free spirit.  She was the first among her siblings to drive a car and was off doing her thing before anyone could stop her.  She never passed judgement on anyone and accepted everyone with a warm greeting, a smile and her fun-loving spirit.  She and her husband always loved a visit and she always accepted Leon as my parter and a member of the family.  Despite the physical pain she often experienced, she was rarely, if ever, heard to complain.  She was a trooper in so many ways.  The week before she passed away she had gone to the casino, made her favorite cookies for a family get together and was getting ready to go visit my sister when she had a stroke.

We have a large extended family and I would say that we were mostly all brought up with similar values: To treat others fairly and not to pass judgement, to be generous and  care for those less fortunate - basic, old fashioned, "Catholic" values.  So I was disturbed to hear several of my relatives voice their disappointment about the election outcome.  And it made me once again question "What is happening to otherwise well-meaning people that they are swayed toward an oppressive, right-wing party?  Is it really about following the dictates of their religious leaders who have defined the "non-negotiable positions on a handful of issues, including abortion and marriage?  I don't know how Aunt Nellie would have voted, but I'm sure she wouldn't have let a priest or bishop or minister strong-arm her into what to think about her political choices.  May she serve as an inspiration to us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Reflection On Winners and Losers

From Despair, Inc. (
Used without Permission*  
I am not a competitive person.  Even when I’ve been a spectator, I’ve never completely understood the concept of “winners” and “losers” and I always empathized more with the “losers”, partly because of their defeat, but mostly because they deluded themselves into thinking that the game they just played was more important than it really was.
From Despair, Inc. (
Used without Permission*
From Despair, Inc. (
Used without Permission*
Games are one thing.  

Our US Government and the Election of its Officials is quite another.  The problem with political “winners” and “losers” is that outcomes of our political battles don’t just affect the candidates - they really are much more important than a game because they can affect all of us for years to come.

But my purpose here is not to expound on the merits or faults of one political philosophy or party or another.  I am pondering the question of why our country is so divided.  And why that division has become increasingly more pronounced over the past decades.  And why believers on both sides are becoming more and more entrenched in their positions and more willing or more desperate to close their ears, their eyes and their minds to “the other side”. 

I was thinking of how I might feel should the Republican Presidential candidate win this election and the first thing that came to mind was that I would feel angry.  First, angry that there might be people who know me who voted against my hard won rights, against my well-being and against my safety and security – against my “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”.  Like “How could they?”

Then, angry that “we” were not able to reason with “them” and offer convincing, logical arguments that anybody could see were right and correct.  Angry that somehow “we” let this get away from “us”.  Angry that “they” somehow got more people pulling on “their” end of the rope.

Thinking about that anger – I find that beneath the anger really is fear.  Fear that not only my life and liberty, but everything I believe in would be threatened – my values, my freedoms, my independence, my rights.

And when I realized this, I thought, “That is probably how the other side is feeling about us.  Everything we stand for probably seems like a threat to their worldview, their beliefs, their very identities.

While I believe there is a qualitative, essential, phenomenological difference between the two worldviews, I don’t want to offer an analysis here – that would only serve to sidetrack the point I am trying to make.  

That point is, with two more or less equal groups feeling threatened by the other, how, oh, how, can this nation expect to survive? 

How can two groups whose distrust and suspicion for one another ever work together for the common good?

Is there a way for each side to suspend the threat that instills fear on the other side?

Is there a way for each side to chip away at the Berlin Wall that separates them?

I’m thinking that we all had better find a way to do so, sometime soon, or we will be in an ideological war, perhaps a war with real weapons, perhaps a war with real bloodshed and with no spectators and no winners.
From Despair, Inc. (
Used without Permission*
* FAQ: I want to put your images on my homepage without crediting you or acknowledging you in any way, so that I can do my small part to violate the copyrights of your photographers and whoever else might have a commercial interest in your intellectual property. How cool is that?
A: It is okay with us provided you promise to throw an online tantrum when we ask you politely to stop.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Follow the Money -

"The United Auto Workers (UAW), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and other groups plan to file an ethics complaint against [the Republican Presidential Candidate] for allegedly failing to disclose his profits from the auto bailout, the UAW has told The Huffington Post."

Read articles HERE and HERE

The world of high finance, "vulture investing", blind trusts, hedge funds, bailouts, etc. is so removed from my reality that I find it hard to believe that that world really exists, or that people live in it everyday.  People like the Republican presidential candidate.

I don't know why this story is just coming out now, or if the major news networks will carry it, but this is damning evidence that this guy that is running on the Republican ticket is dangerous, sneaky, underhanded and treasonous. I use the word treason because this guy believes he is above the law of the land, above any law, and will stop at nothing to achieve ultimate power and wealth.  And he will laugh all the way to hell while this country goes to hell.  God help us.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Link for Thought

Here is a link to I Should Be Laughing - a post about the GOP Presidential campaign's continuing phony attempts to relate to the people by buying their way and staging their "sincerity".  Remember the one where they pretended to wash pots and pans at the soup kitchen?  Or twisted the facts about their search for women to take posts in Massachusetts governor's office; or insisted a grief stricken mother of a son killed in the war return a call to the governor for his own edification; etc.  It amazes me that nearly half the voting public could support the man or the party.


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