protecting our grill

Shortly after we got our new gas grill Terry said that I needed to get a cover for it. I responded that I didn’t think we needed one as it was under the patio cover. She told me it was getting covered with dust. She was right. It was dusty.

I checked out Amazon. (Where else?) I found the appropriate sized grill cover for only $19.95. When it arrived I was pleased with how heavy and sturdy it was. Great value for the price.

I’m glad I got it. When I’m ready to grill the grill is nice and clean and ready to go.

This is not a very interesting picture, but having the cover makes my grilling experience so much more pleasant.

grill cover

an essential grill accessory

Terry and I were delighted to get our new gas grill this spring after being without one since our departure from Gilroy in 2015. We fired it up the day after getting a full propane tank. As soon as I finished cooking our first meal on the new grill I realized what I was missing: my Grill Daddy.

I first discovered the Grill Daddy on cable television. It’s a long-handled wire grill brush, but the handle is hollow and fills with  water. While the grill is still hot you open the water spigot and clean the grill with hot water and steam. I used it for so long that I forgot how I cleaned the grill before that. So once I turned on the new grill I immediately remembered what I was missing.

A quick order to Amazon remedied that problem.

We’re set for the summer.

Gril lDaddy

how to buy propane

I never had a gas grill until Terry and I bought one during our Gilroy years. I only knew of one way to buy propane for it. I did exactly what all of our neighbors did. Initially you bought a tank of propane that was full of the fuel. When it was empty you took it to a location that sold the stuff and swapped out the empty tank for a full one.

propan tankSo when we bought our gas grill I was surprised when my brother asked me how we were going to buy our propane. How? Do I have a choice, I asked. My brother said that we could buy an empty propane tank and get it refilled as needed. Own the tank? Refill as needed? News to me.

That’s what we ended up doing. We went to the local trailer supply store, bought a propane tank, and had it filled. Over the long haul it’s much more cost-effective than the swap-out method.

So I thank my brother for his sage advice.

a good experience with the cable company

Before we arrived here in Hemet in May 2015 we made arrangements for our television/internet/telephone service. We could have gone with Time-Warner and have been able to see the Dodgers games, but consensus was that Time-Warner was a pain to deal with and had poor service. So we chose Verizon, which was easy to get set up since we had Verizon for telephone in Gilroy.

In the intervening time, Time-Warner was bought by Charter Communications and Verizon left the California market (except for wireless), having turned over their phone/internet/television service to Frontier Communications.

Frontier CommunicationsIt was coming up on two years since our service initiation, and that meant an end to our two-year discounts. I got a mailing from Frontier saying that I should call them about a new two-year plan. I dreaded doing that, as I feared a rate increase. I made the call, however, and was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, I got a very friendly representative who was stateside. She was very helpful and told me that instead of the second level channel package plus the HBO/Cinemax combo, I could get the top-level package, which included HBO/Cinemax, plus Showtime and a bunch of other channels. My telephone and internet service would be unchanged. And the cost? $12 less a month than what I had been paying. Still no Dodger games, but we continue to get the Angels.

I’m happy. It’s nice to have a pleasant experience with a service provider.

grill or barbecue?

gas grillWhen I was growing up, my dad would put charcoal on the grill outside, light it with lighter fluid, and then we would cook hamburgers. We called that barbecue. When I moved to Oklahoma at the end of the 1970s I learned that barbecue was when you cooked chicken, beef, or pork in smoke at a low temperature for a long time. When I moved to the Bay Area in the mid 1980’s I learned that cooking outside was called grilling.
Whatever it’s called, Terry and I did a lot of it during our years in Gilroy. We bought a gas grill and it got a lot of use. We left it behind when we moved south in 2015 and have very much missed it. Recently, however, with Terry having a part-time job and me getting a little freelance income we decided we could afford a new gas grill.

We bought one from Amazon, put it together, and immediately fired it up. Whether it’s barbecue or grill, we love it.

never thought that’s where we’d end up

When Terry and I were in Silicon Valley I used Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) for my healthcare. I was generally happy with it. They accepted my PPO insurance, and having all the various departments and specialties under one roof, metaphorically though not physically, made things easy. Terry had a doctor she really liked who was out-of-network, but when that doctor kept raising her fees Terry moved to PAMF as well and liked it.

caduceusWhen we moved here to Hemet there was no analogous medical group in the valley, but rather a patchwork hodgepodge of private practices. I got a recommendation for a doctor from a reliable source at church and made an appointment for my physical. That doctor accepted my PPO insurance. I had two appointments. At the first appointment in October 2015 he ordered my blood work and checked my breathing with his stethoscope without having me take off my shirt. That was all. He told me to come back in six weeks to review the results. Six weeks? Really? When I went back he reviewed the results with me, but did not touch me. Are you kidding me? And I was charged a copay both times. The annual physical was supposed to be no charge under that plan. When I called the insurance company they told me what they claimed he had seen me for—things we never discussed. I was determined to find another doctor for the next year’s physical.

Things happen for a reason. When I sat next to a couple at Rev. Kathleen’s farewell luncheon in September of last year they told me that one of the reasons they were in Hemet was that they had long been in the Kaiser system and needed to me near Kaiser facilities. Kaiser? I asked. Where is there Kaiser near here? In Moreno Valley they told me. That’s just up the road, perhaps forty minutes or so. No father than Terry and I had to drive for PAMF when we were in Gilroy. That got me thinking.

I had never seriously thought about being part of Kaiser, but I knew people who liked it. They certainly had a reputation for being proactive when it came to preventative care. And aside from the issues with my doctor, I didn’t like going to a lab independent of the doctor’s practice, and I hated not being able to log on with my web browser to see my test results.

Then a couple of things happened. Terry went to see her doctor for her annual physical in October. After waiting ninety minutes she god mad, asked for her test results, and left. At open enrollment time the packet that arrived told us that my former company (which very generously reclassified me as a retiree shortly after laying me off in 2014) dropped the PPO option in favor of a percentage indemnity plan.

Time to become part of the Kaiser system. I won’t go into how we signed up for both Covered California and my company’s plan, and then elected to go with my company’s plan rather than the California version of Obamacare, even at twice the monthly premium, after the disheartening results of the presidential election. The essential point is that we’re with Kaiser.

So far we’re pleased. Terry is happy with her doctor, I am happy with mine. Both are proactive with respect to our care and well-being. Terry had a call from orthopedics the day after her physical to schedule an appointment for her. Our doctors don’t hesitate to schedule tests when appropriate. For things like blood work we get in and out of the lab quickly.

I have to say that I feel much more secure with Kaiser than with the private practices here that seem more intent on maximizing their insurance billings than on patient care.

I believe we made the right decision.

on taking nothing for granted

I make a point of taking nothing for granted. And I make a point of being grateful.

I first got my hearing aid in 2010. I was delighted at the difference it made. I was grateful to have it. I had to send it in for repair twice and missed it terribly while I was without it. I never took it for granted.

Recently I lost it. It was, literally and metaphorically, the perfect storm. On Friday 17 February Southern California was hit by the largest rain storm it had seen in a dozen or more years. That same day Terry was scheduled for a procedure at a location about thirty miles away. (You know the procedure. It’s the one we have to get every few years after we turn a certain age. The one where the preparation is more unpleasant than the actual procedure.) When we arrived at the facility it was cloudy and cold but not raining. By the time they released Terry the storm had arrived in full force. I had Terry in the wheelchair and was trying to juggle that and the umbrella. As I often do when going from a building to the car when it is raining I took off my hearing aid and put it in my pouch. I managed to get Terry to the car and into the car, get rid of the wheelchair, and get myself into the car. When I went to get my hearing aid out of my pouch it wasn’t there. The battery was there but there was no hearing aid. Retracing my steps in the pouring rain produced nothing, and even if it had the hearing aid would doubtless have been ruined.

Hearing AidIt being a Friday afternoon, there was nothing I could do until Monday. I researched local hearing aid centers over the weekend and selected one that had been in business for a long time and sold multiple lines. I called them first thing Monday morning and though it was President’s Day I was grateful that they were open. I made an appointment for 8:00 a.m. Wednesday. The audiologist was very competent and thorough. I asked him about a hearing aid that would connect directly with my iPhone. He recommended the ReSound brand and as it was only a little bit more expensive than buying the brand I previously had, I decided to go for it.

The hearing aid arrived last Thursday and I immediately made an appointment for this morning. I went inHearing Aid App and again the audiologist was very thorough and helpful. The features are somewhat different from my previous hearing aid, but I am getting used to how they work. And not only am I able to use my iPhone directly with my hearing aid (without an intermediate device), but I can control it from my iPhone. I can change the volume and the settings. There is a restaurant setting that I can adjust for the ambient sounds, and then tell the app to remember that restaurant.

It’s all very cool and I am delighted to be able to hear properly again.

I am grateful and I take nothing for granted.