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Friday, May 27, 2016

Medicare Musings

Yesterday we spent almost 1 1/2 hours on the phone with David R, an AON representative.  Notre Dame has hired AON to help retirees make Medicare choices.  We have had Medicare A cards for a few yeaars but have relied on Notre Dame's very good Meritain plan for health care expenses.  We have applied for Medicare B and are waiting for our new cards. The big change will come on July 1, the effective day of Jim's retirement.

So what is next?  Medicare Advantage or MediGap?  And which plan?

Our heads were swimming with words like deductible, annual maximum, tax free, roll over, prorated, co-payment, network, guaranteed issuance, uncapped, donut hole, catastrophic, etc.

It's a gamble in a way.  We can't look into the future.  We do know that we will probably face more health issues in the next ten years--should we live for the next ten years.  We certainly have had a few more out-patient procedures, doctors' visits, and even a hospitalization in the last five years.  And once you choose the Advantage plan, there is no "guaranteed issuance" for the Gap plan later.  Yet, I think we are inclined to be optimistic (or foolish!) about feeling pretty good today and thinking that will last!

It has suddenly become an old people's topic of conversation.  Yesterday a friend and I sat outside on a beautiful day, having a lovely drink, and talking about Medicare!  But it is good to know what others have done or are going to do.

We are grateful that Notre Dame eases the process.  We have met with a Human Resources retirement counselor twice..  She goes over her check list with us and that is reassuring.  We had a very helpful conversation with David and will be talking with him again once we have made a decision.

Although we both prefer not to think about all these decisions, it won't go away and no one will make it for us.  We can do it!  Retirement is a good thing.  Medicare is a good thing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Hilton Head Vacation

My sister Lois and her husband John invited us to join them at their time share in Hilton Head for five nights.   We left immediately after Notre Dame's graduation.  In fact I picked up a crimson-robed Jim outside the hockey arena and, with a quick stop at McDonald's, we went directly to the airport.

Lois and John's time share is in the Caligny Square area where we could walk to the Piggly-Wiggly grocery store, several restaurants and ice cream parlors, and North Beach at the ocean.

Scored Flounder
We ate well.  I had stuffed flounder, scored flounder, fried clam strips, and Southern fried chicken--along with corn bread, cole slaw,and  husb puppies--all good Southern low country food.  But we also walked well--over 16,000 steps today and  12,000 steps yesterday.

A first for me was biking on the beach--very possible on this hard packed sand.  Today I swam in the ocean.   Lois enjoyed the pool and the fellows golfed on three of the days at three different challenging courses.

Hilton Head has an interesting history.  In 1862 there was a village of 1500 freed slaves called Mitchellville.  We visited the site today and sat on a bench donated by Toni Morrison as part of a monument to those who lived in slavery.  The Gulla tradition is almost lost amidst all the resorts and shopping areas built in the last 25 years.

Rocking Chairs Everywhere
Spanish Moss from our Balcony
It's been fun to see a different part of our country.   Spanish moss, magnolia blossoms, sea turtles, alligators--all an interesting change from home.   John and Lois were great hosts.  They know the area well and had lots of ideas of things to do and places to eat. It's been a wonderful vacation break.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Volunteering Update

Our local library has been a source of much delight for years but especially in my retirement now that I have more time to read.  I have requested many new books or books that are located in another branch in the system.  Usually, within a few days, I get a notice and I go right over and get my book.

As I thought about volunteer options, I thought I could give back to the library. This meant an application, an interview, and worst of all, a drug test.  (I blogged about that earlier.)   This morning, I had my third weekly session of work at the Francis Branch very near our home.  The work is pretty routine but that is fine with me.  I gather the books and audio-visual materials from the deposit bins, put them through a scanning machine where they are "inducted" and sorted into twelve carts.  When I finish with that task, I bring the books to specific shelves  that correspond to each cart.  Someone else shelves the books in the library.

Today, for the first time, I found two incoming books that I wanted to check out.  Both of them were serendipitous finds so that felt like my own little reward.

I have also begun helping with the Homebound program at the downtown library.  I selected books and audiotapes for three women who are among the 190 on their list.  This is a more challenging--to find books they have not had and that they might enjoy.

  I continue to tutor one student through Hope Ministries although because she is not homeless, we are meeting at my church, a convenient place for both of us.  I am delighted with her progress in six weeks and so is she.  She says she is beginning to read signs around town and  to read texts on her phone without involving the dictation app immediately.

I resigned from the docent program at the art museums.  I asked for a two month break from playing the organ at church--my first leave in over 24 years!

I am trying to strike a balance between reducing stress and still staying busy and productive.  For now this seems right.