Monday, March 22, 2010

Simple Pleasures & New Beginnings

Life saw promising new beginnings and simple pleasures realized this past weekend, both large- and small-scale. The most obvious, of course, was the beginning of Spring at 1:32 p.m. Saturday afternoon. My son and I attempted to balance an egg upright at that moment, and for about 10 minutes after the moment, with no success. Later that night, he managed to balance an egg.
I've done it before, but it's always a bit of a thrilling surprise (It doesn't take much these days- lol)!
We celebrated Spring/St.Patrick's Day with a delightful gathering of my sister, her husband, my S.O., my son and me. We enjoyed yummy hors d'oeuvres of stuffed mushroom caps, shrimp,cheeses, fruits,veggies and munchies. The mushroom caps make an easy yet delicious treat. I used to stuff them with alouet cheese. When that became too pricey, I recently switched to jarred spinach dip.
Bake the stuffed caps at 350 until the caps collapse, but before the dip escapes- about an hour. My guests actually preferred the dip-version to the more expensive cheese.
My son and his uncle had a blast metal-detecting in the warm and sunny outdoors. My sister and I always have a good time visiting, and the S.O. moves between the groups, however small, with ease.
For dinner, we feasted on traditional corned beef, soda bread, a twist on cabbage - chopped and sauteed in olive oil with a sprinkling of caraway seeds, a generous amount of grated ginger root and dried cranberries - and roasted red potatoes with olive oil and garlic.
I have fun experimenting with cabbage. I've also sauteed it with ginger, raisins and grated carrots.
We toasted the new season with Guinness from a can in crystal goblets! The feast was topped off by individual pistachio pudding pies topped with heavy whipped cream and green sprinkles. Again, simple but visually appealing and very tasty!
I like to keep entertaining simple, so I can enjoy the people and avoid becoming exhausted and/or harried. I've become accomplished at relaxed entertaining in spite of my former, type-A self - it's glorious!
Another small, personal pleasure came in the form of my daughter, the almost-23-year-old, who fell on hard times after a bad relationship, but who kept working to right her life. She found a nice new apartment above a private home nearer to her job and farther away from the former boyfriend. It's in a safe, residential area. I'm thrilled, and so is she!
And finally, the biggest, simple pleasure - perhaps of all time - the ability to enjoy decent, affordable health care. The just-passed Health Care Reform Bill promises to reduce the deficit by $143 billion over its first 10 years, and to expand coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
The Bill places an increased tax burden on individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year, and couples whose income exceeds $250,000 annually. It cuts Medicare ($500 billion over 10 years!) , and broadens the range of Medicaid for the "poor," many of whom until recently, counted themselves among the middle class. It places an excise tax on "Cadillac" health-care plans.
And in one of those "I love it but I can't believe it" measures, places a 10-percent excise tax on tanning - no kidding! Take that, artificially golden people! Lay out in the sun like us poor people (and/or purists) do! I suppose taxing tanning is akin to cigarette taxes. Both cause cancer. Very interesting move.
My daughter, the one described above, expressed fear that she would be fined for not purchasing insurance through work. As a student, she can't afford to buy health insurance through her employer. As many of the holding-on-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth middle class can't afford to buy in to employer-offered insurance. It should be interesting to see how that plays out. I'll be watching!
Obviously, if your wings tip to the right, this development is no victory. Obviously, the haves are being tapped to help the have-nots. I've been both a have and a have-not. It stinks to be a have, working your tush off and feeling like every one is sucking the blood out of your veins. It stinks to be a have-not, knowing that the inability to afford health care is a life and death dilemma. As I've said, it will be interesting to watch this situation unfurl.
But one thing is for sure, as simple pleasures go, health care should be one that every American has access to and enjoys on a regular, affordable basis. Generally, it was a great weekend for simple pleasures. Let's hope it all works out for the greater good!
What do you think? Be well & happy!
As Spring is here, I'll be spending more time outdoors. I'll be posting on Mondays & Thursdays until further notice! Thanks for reading!

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