Healthcare: Go big or go home

It blows my mind that there are people who make a living in the field of healthcare who believe receiving care is not a basic human right. It’s simply another way of saying that some people don’t deserve healthcare.

I have questions for these people: What are you doing in this field? How do you decide for whom you will go the extra mile? Do your beliefs affect how you deliver care? If your answer is “no,” how can they NOT affect the quality of your care? And the question I have to ask myself is this one: do I really want you on my team?

My short answer to this question for myself is NO. I cannot see any room on my team for anyone who believes that only certain folks deserve good healthcare. Whatever your reasons are, it’s not a belief system that I can work with.

If I cannot trust that a colleague is giving his/her best efforts to every single patient every single time, then that colleague is my liability, my weak link. You cannot devote your life to the higher calling of caring for sick people by defining those who will receive more of less of your care. If you’re not “all in,” please don’t waste my time.

Nashville, November 2016

NEPA Blog of the WEEK!! you say?  Wow! Thank you! 
     Music has always filled our home. Often it’s much to my dismay, but our home is a loud one thanks to my “house band.” My husband, Jeff, plays everything and has rooms full of recording equipment, drum kits, guitars, etc., has written hundreds of songs and possesses lots of music in various formats. My oldest, Teagan, also plays everything and has a budding career as your upcoming favorite local musician, or he’ll be world famous-you just never know. My middlest, Brody, started to learn, but has too much of his mother in him-his onstage presence was abrupted by my genes which prevented any music from being easy for him. And then there’s my youngest.  Last but not least, my daughter, Mollie, has been writing and performing since she was 10 years old. 


     Today’s blogpost will be about how my seventeen year old daughter brokered her own opportunity to record an EP in a world famous, Grammy Award winning recording studio in Nashville. Taylor Swift’s first album was recorded by Jamie Tate of The Rukkus Room, and now, Mollie Edsell’s will have been as well. She reached out to Jamie, listened to his advice, wrote, recorded, submitted her songs to him for feedback, scheduled phone calls with him, edited songs, and finally reserved studio time in Nashville. By herself. Then it was up to her stepdad and me to try to make the rest happen for her. 


     We treated it like a family vacation. We were missing our sons, but they were at school, and that made us feel slightly less guilty. We flew down the Saturday before Election Day 2016, and stayed in the Opryland area for a lot less money than attempting to be downtown. Our hotel was one minute from the interstates that took us downtown quickly, about 4 minutes from The Grand Ole Opry and Opryland Mall, 3 minutes from The Willie Nelson General Store and “Cooters Museum” and lots of restaurants, shops and things to do. It was a good decision to be in that area.


     The next day, Sunday, we daytripped to Memphis. It is NOT close. It was about 200 miles each way on the most boring stretch of road, Rt 40. And I thought driving on 80 West in Pa was boring! But, once we arrived at Graceland, we forgot about that drive until it was time to return to Nashville that evening. It was our favorite day of the trip. My daughter and I did not enter Graceland as Elvis fans, but left his home in tears and in love. It was a wonderful experience. Our next stop was Sun Studios and my husband was now the one overcome by emotion. And our last stop was the Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Hotel-the site of MLK’s assassination. It was an unexpectedly amazing day. 


     On Monday morning, my daughter had the chance to start pursuing a dream she never really dared to take too seriously. We all remain cautiously optimistic, to be honest. We arrived at 9:30am for a 10am studio appointment, and had a chance to meet her Nashville Musician’s Union band. A super-sweet, very supportive, professional group of gentlemen who were kind and encouraging to my 17 year old kid. We loved everyone: the musicians, Jamie Tate, Joe, Nick and especially Lexi who took Mollie out that night to play around Nashville. Lexi is Lexi Lew (lexilew.com) and she’s a fantastic musician herself. She made sure my kid could say she played on Broadway in Nashville, got us free downtown parking, let her use her sound equipment, put a coat on her when it got cold outside, then gave Mollie all the money they earned. You should all buy her album on iTunes. She writes, composes, plays an instrument and sings-all the criteria met for my definition of a real musician. And she is as kind as she is talented.



     Tuesday was Election Day, and Mollie’s second day in the studio. She had another fantastic day with that crew, and at night we ate a million snacks and watched CNN like it was our job. Trump won, and we found ourselves right in the middle of a very red state. With apprehension, we walked into the hotel restaurant for breakfast that next morning, and everyone there was just as upset as we were. There was a lot of wounded disbelief at the studio that morning as well. We were relieved that this was the case. It would all have been too much to bear if the mood was celebratory instead of reassuring and supportive. 

     Jeff and I toured the campuses of Vanderbilt and Belmont, followed in the footprints of so many of our most favorite musicians as we walked around Nashville : Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, etc. We ate in restaurants with walls adorned with autographed pictures of the greats, stopped and had drinks all along Broadway where live music starts at 10am, and had a fantastic time while Mollie got a chance to try something she’d have regretted not doing her entire life.  I’ll be paying for this dream of hers for a long, long time, but I’m really happy that she has a chance to try. 

     Watch social media for the Release Party in 2017! MollieEdsell.com 

I’ll eventually get to Seneca Lake, Part II!!

Daytrip Destinations: Seneca Lake Wine Trail February 2016

My husband and I, when we first started dating, discovered how much we love upstate New York for “Date Days.” We’re both morning people, and late nights out are not our favorite thing. Our alarm goes off at 530am five days a week, so the consequence of severely changing our weekend schedule for a late night out is something we feel for a while. On top of that, his commute some days is over an hour, depending on which campus needs him that day, and I’m a nurse. Being tired at work isn’t something either of us wants for ourselves.

Which leads me to the day trips. We leave early in the day, get where we’re going, head home after dinner, and are in bed at a decent hour.

From Northeast Pa, Seneca Lake is about 2 hours and 10 minutes.

We usually leave around 8am, and arrive a bit after 10. The wineries open at 10!
We take 81 North to 17 West, and, when you start seeing signs for Corning, look for the Watkins Glen exit. Take that exit and use Rt 14 all the way into the downtown area. If you stay on Rt 14, you’ll start up along the West Side of Seneca Lake.

 

But, WAIT. Just before you start up the left side of the lake, park your car in either The Harbor Hotel or Seneca Station restaurant parking lots (Harbor Hotel has beautiful, CLEAN bathrooms because, by now, you need one.) Walk around the Marina Area outside, take pictures on the decking, look at that beautiful lake! Breathe it all in. So pretty.

Ok. Get back in your car. Now we start your wine tour! When Jeff, my husband, and I go, he’s the official drinker, and I drive. If he tries something new and thinks I’ll like it, I sip his tasting. We only buy one tasting at each winery (usually $3-$6.00 per winery) and, if I try what’s in his glass, nobody says a word. I’ve taken several people through the area. This is always how I handle the drinking/driving situation. By the end of the entire day, I still haven’t even had a full glass of wine over many hours. And I’m really happy when the people I’m with are having fun, so I definitely don’t feel left out as the DD!

West Side of Seneca Lake: These are a few of our favorites. I’m writing about these wineries as I’m imagining driving north on Rt 14 alongside the lake toward Geneva.

Our first stop is usually Lakewood Winery. Its just a few minutes up Rt 14 on the right overlooking the lake. It’s almost always where we start our day. If you’re going to start drinking at 10:30 in the morning, you want to do so with these sweet people and their friendly dogs. Jeff and I tend to prefer semi-sweet to semi-dry whites, and The Finger Lakes are known for whites, but each winery has a variety of sweet and dry reds, blushes, and whites. You’ll find something you love at most of these wineries.

Up ahead on the left is Magnus Ridge. This is a gorgeous winery with a great gift shop. Their tastings include food items (cheese, pasta, etc) and was a little more expensive than many. My mom and her friends claim this winery has the best bottle of Pinot Gris they’ve ever had, and it’s their best seller. So much so that it is currently out of stock.

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Magnus Ridge Gift Shop

You SHOULD explore the other wineries I’m not talking about, too. Jeff and I have perfected what we like, and go to restock our supply, but we love revisiting an old one we had dismissed to discover new wines. These are our favorite “restock spots.”

Pompous Ass Winery is on your left. They have some great table wines: Kiss My Ass white, blush and red. Conversation starters for sure.

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The Pompous Ass Winery

Glenora is on your right. We hadn’t visited this winery in a few years, and we were pleasantly surprised when we visited this time. Fantastic new wines! If you follow the road just past the parking lot, you come to a home at the bottom near the lake with the best backyard waterfall you can even imagine.

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How about THIS for a backyard?

Fulkerson, my favorite winery EVER!, is on your left. Again-they have a range of whites, reds, blushes, blends. This is a major budget busting stop for us. But, it’s because they have amazing wines which are inexpensive. I cannot even tell you how many dishes I have made with their Airship White or Red ($7.99) because if I’m going to open a bottle to cook, I’d like it to be drinkable, too! (I prefer the white to drink, but all of it cooks really nicely.)

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Fulkerson.  How I love you.

There are so many more as you go up Rt 14, but it’s about now that we’re REALLY hungry. It’s probably about 1:30 or 2pm by now, and my passengers have been drinking lots of wine, so we’re looking for a great lunch spot. Guess what? Hardly ANY restaurants on the trail. You can grab food at Magnus Ridge, and there are some diner spots along the way, but not a lot of choices on Rt 14 next to the lake.

We try to hold off for a bit until we get into Geneva to go to Belhurst Castle. The castle has a bar/gastropub called “StoneCutters.” It has a great lunch menu, and it’s just the right mix of bar food or something healthy so everyone is satisfied. They have amazing grounds overlooking the lake, a cute gift shop, and there’s always a gorgeous afternoon wedding somewhere in the castle by this time of day. It’s a great place to eat, then walk around for a bit and enjoy being out of the car and not belly up to a bar tasting wine.

Once, Jeff and I waited until we got to the north tip of the lake to have lunch at the Ramada, It was ok. We missed our afternoon at the castle. You’ll love it.

I’m many words into this entry. I’ll bring us through Geneva and down the East Side of the lake in my next entry. But know this: in the “off season,” many wineries close by 5, and in peak season, most close around 6. You have to plan your day accordingly.

Til next time!

Daytripping Out Of NEPA

When I first quit Facebook, and decided to blog, my intention was to write about NEPA day tripping. Like, when we, as Pocono Northeast residents need to blow this taco stand!, I wanted to share where my husband and I have gone, what we’ve done, etc. Jeff and I day trip often, and I thought it’d be a worthwhile topic.

When one reads about the Scranton area, one will discover ours is a depressed, unhappy, unhealthy and unwealthy area. I have to argue that this isn’t quite true for the most part.    I generally love life here.
Our politics are corrupt and dirty which serves as a deterrent to some of our more fantastic residents running for local offices. Those same elected officials have made horrific decisions, have compromised our area in terrible ways, and say/do such stupid things we continually look bad in the public eye. Our cops and firefighters are “the bad guys” and, when one follows that logic, I’m not even sure who the good guys are supposed to be. But there are a lot of people who persevere in this area in spite of decades of bad leadership and long term ignorance. I have decided to stick with local positivity after years of trying to help change our area’s political history. Our local voters don’t want or trust anything new. Changing the political climate here is futile, but we are lucky because our local art scene and the people involved help soften the blow of our bad leadership. But I’ll sing their praises in another entry.

One of the things that IS true about our area is that there is not a lot of wealth. Exotic vacations would be great, but many, like our family, are on tight budgets.
I have wanderlust. I have lived in Northeast PA my entire life, but it does not mean I’m content to stay in my own backyard. Like, at all! We live just about two hours away from a lot of fantastic day trip destinations, and my husband and I take advantage often. NEPa rests amid the crossroads of several major highways (Rts 81, 380, 80, 84, 6, 11, the PA Turnpike). I have been overseas to England, Spain, Italy, France, and all over North America, but with 2 of our 4 kids in college, day trips are just about what we can afford these days.
We have two weekends a month together (the other two, we have my eleven year old stepson), and we try to go SOMEWHERE each month with just the two of us. But we have my 16 year old daughter at home, and often can’t do overnights. We’re just about 100 miles from NYC, Philadelphia, Ithaca, New England, The Finger Lakes Area, Hershey, The Hudson Valley, Woodstock, New Hope and just slightly more or less than those 100 miles to the Lehigh Valley, Lancaster Co, the New Jersey or Delaware Atlantic coast. I try to keep our day trip destinations under about 2.5 hours of “drive time” each way. And, now that gas is so cheap, these excursions are even more affordable.

If I can convince my husband to try the Culinary Institute of America or return to Seneca Lake wineries (our supply is low!) next Saturday, I’d like to start blogging these trips in real time. See you next week!

V-Day

Valentines Day is upon us. Bear with me as I talk about my husband, Jeff for, oh, I don’t know…about 586 words.

Jeff is my second husband. A husband I never thought I’d have after my first marriage nearly destroyed me.
We knew of each other from high school, we ran with the same circles. He was a musician, and still is. We all knew who he was-he was a quiet, humble, surprisingly shy (unless he was onstage), really thin wallflower of a guy. If you talked with him for 5 minutes, you understood him to be a super nice person, but, unless you sought out that conversation, you would never have known this. He wasn’t the one seeking out that conversation. Even the day in our senior year when he was honored with the highest award in music one could receive in our school, he unassumingly waved the applause aside, and returned to his seat. An introvert back in the days when that term was rarely used.

We reconnected as adults after his divorce and my separation (My divorce was dragged out over 8.5 years). Facebook, of all things, put many of us in touch with our fellow Class of ’90 grads, and we were “friends.” I saw photos of him and his son, listened to some of his recordings, read a close mutual friend and Jeff talk about very specific, often entertaining memories from high school and college, etc. He was still a great guy by all accounts. I looked forward to seeing him at Class of ’90 events, and we got a chance to see each other and say hello as adults.

I had a day off in the autumn of 2011, and wanted to go to the Lehigh Valley Williams Sonoma, and it was near where Jeff worked. We met for coffee, and it was our first one on one, face to face conversation. I kept thinking during coffee that I really liked him, and hoped he liked me, and … the rest is history.

It takes a special kind of man to attempt to date an overbooked, frumpy, stressed out mom of three teens. It takes a goddamned near SAINT to marry her as those teens are entering college, and she is nearing her financial demise. Jeff is all of these things. On top of all of the things I love about him, I love that he saw through a lot of obstacles, and decided I was worth them. I have never felt so loved by someone who is not my parent or my child. He is the best, most supportive husband in the world, and he is the very best friend I could ever hope to have. I never expected this out of my life, but I’m so happy it happened. I’d almost say he rescued me, but I was ok on my own…I just didn’t know what I was missing. I hope my sons follow his example of being a husband and father, and I hope my daughter understands this is what she should expect from her marriage: kindness, support, understanding, friendship. Actually, I hope all three expect this from their partners. I didn’t, and it was a difficult lesson.

Happy Valentines Day, Jeff. I love your face, I love laughing with you, I love your music, I love our day trip adventures, I love that we solve problems together, I love our friendship, I love our hectic, whacko life. You are my home.

You’re my favorite husband so far! 🙂
I love you way too much. ❤

MaM

I’ll start out by saying that my husband and I are 43, our four kids are ages 11-20, and nobody in our house really thinks we’re all that cool.

Sure, we have “cool moments.” Our kids might catch us listening to a song they like, or might think it’s a good thing that we go see a movie they recommended, but, mostly, NOT cool. It’s okay. I have had teenagers for the better part of the last 7 years, and Jeff (my husband) has been here for four of them. We have accepted that these damn kids are going to have to be parents themselves before they realize we were pretty cool people. I hope I’m alive for it!

My husband is much cooler than I am. He gives off a little bit of a hipster vibe (he did so before hipsters were cool), he has collected “vinyl” for decades, he’s a musician, has a degree in journalism from ‘Cuse and looks A LOT like Joey Fatone.
But, when it comes right down to it, I’m NEVER ahead of the curve on anything trendy. I’ll usually see something in the news or hear about it, and start googling. And, when I say “hear about it,” I actually mean I overhear my teens talking about it.

All that changed (for, like, a week!) on December 26th, 2015 when I had almost nothing to do and I caught the first 5 minutes of Making A Murderer. I yelled up the steps, “Jeff, what are you doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE?” When his answer didn’t seem important enough to miss what I had just gotten myself into, I watched those same five minutes again with him at my side. We experienced all ten hours of it together. We couldn’t look away. It had just been released on December 18th to Netflix, and most people hadn’t seen it yet. So, just before the WHOLE WORLD was freaking out about MaM, Jeff and I were totally prepared with intelligent sound bytes about the riveting documentary.

I do know that Justice is not blind in America. I know that people who are not white have very different collective experiences with law enforcement than people who are white. But this documentary highlights decades of a very poor white family’s experience with the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s department. They were not pillars of their community. They were not only poor, but their family business was a huge junkyard. The two accused in this series had a very low IQ (each scored just about a 70). Steven Avery had some experience with law enforcement by the time he was accused of murder. However, his very green, sixteen year old nephew, Brendan Dassey, demonstrated each of those low points in his interrogation.
That interrogation nauseated me, and still haunts me. And don’t even get me started about Brendan’s interview with that nutcase sociopath, O’Kelly. What kind of professional would ever even clear this guy to work with kids?
And my heart is still broken for the shadow of a woman Mrs. Avery has become throughout all of this.

The questions I have are these:
1. If the Sheriff’s Department went through all the trouble of defining exactly what their role in the investigation was (only to deliver things the investigators might need to the Avery property, then leave immediately without being on the scene), why would they have ANY excusable reason to show up and hang out on the property during the investigation? They told the public, “We do not belong on that scene,” then were on the scene coincidentally when new evidence was discovered. Why the hell were they there? They broke their own VERY CLEAR rules.
2. How could there be DNA all over the inside of the car with no fingerprints, handprints, etc? Can anyone show me a similar case where smeared contact blood is discovered on a crime scene and no prints are detected? Can it happen?
3. Two words: Sweat DNA? Oh, that slick devil Kenneth Kratz! He went on to show the world on the record exactly what his professional ethics were. Every dog gets his day…
4. Why would anyone tamper with sealed evidence from an old case? The obvious cut open/resealed tape over the vial of blood, and what lab or healthcare professional puts a needle in a tube? That’s not how we would access the sample. That’s how people who don’t know what to do access the sample.
5. Sheriff’s department relatives existed on that fair and impartial jury?

Law enforcement’s bias was obvious. They investigated NOBODY else, TWICE. Once in 1985, and again in 2005. When the sheriff’s department began their witchhunt in 1985, they allowed Gregory Allen (Penny Beerntsen’s actual rapist) to continue to commit crimes. Negligence by law enforcement caused direct harm to people. And I remain completely unconvinced by the prosecution that they are not partially responsible for the crimes of Theresa Haibach’s real killer. These cases need to come out of the hands of the buffoons in Wisconsin. The whole country is watching you, Manitowoc County, and we are NOT impressed. Your rebuttals to the documentary have not changed many minds. Your case is weak, and you should be ashamed that vengeance was more important to you than justice.

Rant over.

Suzy Saturday

 

I’m getting ready this week for a Ladies Luncheon I’m hosting next Saturday in memory of my late friend, Susan Gallagher-who was, incidentally, never late.

She died last month, just before Christmas. She LOVED Christmas. She Loved Lucy (Of I Love Lucy-Lucille Ball). She loved homemaking and being with her family. Her well organized home and the people in it were her prized possessions. We jokingly used to call her “The Labelmaker.”

When our kids were smaller; Sue, Andrea, Chris, Melissa and I would meet after our kids’ half day of school and have a playdate/lunch at rotating houses. When Sue died; Andrea, Chris, Melissa and I stood huddled together in the funeral home praying and crying for our friend during the service.

We came into each other’s lives when our kids were in preschool. Suzy and I sent in our youngest, and Chris, Melissa and Andrea said goodbye for the first time to their oldest kiddos. When my sons started preschool/Kindergarten, I was one of the younger moms, and I didn’t really connect with any groups of parents. I stood out, and they did nothing to make me feel included. But, when my Mollie was that age, I was now in my 30s, and I wasn’t so young anymore. I fit in a little bit better to this demographic, and a few of these people became my real friends.

I’ve heard other young moms talk about this experience. Of being a bit ostracized by older parents in these environments: dance class, sports, school. Some parents accept that place in life. I was not one of them. If it meant I had to fight for my place in conversations related to decisions affecting my kids, so be it. I would-I did. I was 23 when I became a mom. I had a nearly nonexistent husband who didn’t attend kid functions with me. I was still in my 20s when my kids entered school. But, by the time I was in my 30s, I was an officer on the boards of most anything my kids decided to do. I taught CCD for 6 years, I was an officer of my PTA at the school (plus President x 2 terms ) and council level, I was an officer on their football/cheer league, an officer on a swim team, and involved in lots of community kids’ events. And I can thank THIS group of ladies for at least giving me “people.” I now had people. I wasn’t quite so alone in these situations anymore.

Suzy was one of them. She was mom to Ashley and “Katie-mi-lady,” and wife to Jerry. She was funny as shit. She knew she was funny, and loved sharing the funny situations she managed to create each day for herself. She was totally okay with herself, and never pretended to be anything other than what she was. She was great. She was adored in our circles. And, once she got sick, we learned she was adored in many circles.

Sue and Chris left our school district years ago, and the group kind of fizzled. Three of us now live in a different house, two of us are on husband #2, and three of our kids still see each other every day of their lives, even if they’re not as close as they were in preschool, and rarely see the other two (although, Facebook helps!). Things have changed in eleven years as things do. But I’ll never forget how the love and support of “The Kindergarten Moms Club” helped turn me into who I needed to be.

So, next Saturday at 1pm, Andrea, Chris, Melissa and I will meet in my dining room and have a little dessert before lunch, and a lot of dessert after lunch (the way Sue would have done it). We will set a place at the table for her, and we will share stories, drink wine, and remember why we loved her. I hope she’s watching.

Update: We all showed up in the middle of “Jonas” (a major snowstorm event that left Scranton with ONE INCH of snow).