Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Happens When You Don't Have Private Health Insurance

I opened up my blogger thinking, "I should post about what we did this weekend!"

"What DID we do this weekend?"

"Wait. It's Thursday?"

"So it's almost the weekend?"

My life apparently revolves around these brief and blessed breaks from getting up at 5:30 am to send the husband off to work.

So since we actually did nothing last weekend except going into town, which is an Event for us nowadays, I'll write about What Happens When You Don't Have Private Health Insurance.

I've been pregnant twice before. I lost the first baby at 10 weeks pregnant; the second baby is the one you see all the pictures of. For both previous pregnancies, I did not have health insurance, and had to go to Hastings, the free Indian hospital.

Except I'm white. The Indian hospital only cares about me when I'm pregnant, because Ryan's Native American. And won't see me unless I have a doctor's note that I'm pregnant. (Walmart pregnancy tests don't count; I asked.)

So here's the vicious circle: I can't get healthcare because I can't prove I'm pregnant. I can't go to the doctor to get the magical proof of pregnancy because I have no insurance. I'm going to Hastings BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE INSURANCE. They won't see me because I can't prove I'm pregnant.

(Or get on SoonerCare so you can go to a private hospital, which is what I plan on doing this time. They still want a proof of pregnancy to give you pregnancy insurance, though.)

The solution? Pay cash for a fancy Ob/Gyn pregnancy test; get the rest of the prenatal care free. It costs $17.50.

But this pregnancy? I got to the window, told them I need a pregnancy test and I'd be paying cash, and instead of smilingly handing me the clipboard, the two ladies at the window looked at each other uncertainly and one said, "ummmm, do you have SoonerCare?"

"No, that's why I need the pregnancy test, so I can get on SoonerCare, or go to Hastings, or something."

"Welllllllll, if you're paying in cash, it'll be $55, but if you apply for the SoonerCare Family Planning plan, you're automatically pre-approved online, and it'll be free."

"WHAT??? It was $17.50 the last two times I did this!!"

"Yes, but we're not allowed to do a sliding scale with our charges anymore, and we're now required to charge you a $37.50 office visit fee too."


And the SoonerCare online application doesn't work. So I can't go take a pregnancy test. So I can't get the health insurance I'm supposedly entitled to, as a pregnant mom under a certain income level. I can't even go to the Indian hospital where they treat Native Americans (not me, of course, but the baby) for free. If I got strep and needed to get antibiotics or my baby might die, I would just be stuck. Or beg my pharmacist father in law for smuggled antibiotics. Or something. Because I don't have $55 to spend on peeing in a cup so someone can dip the exact same litmus strip in it that I bought at Walmart for $4 and tell me what I've known for thirteen weeks.

You read that right. Our new wonderful healthcare reform is requiring my local Ob/Gyn to charge $55 for an uninsured woman to get a proof of pregnancy so that she can get insurance. It's requiring the health department to charge $45, they said at the clinic. What used to cost a price that made me take a luxury or two off the next grocery list now costs enough to make me take all our produce and dairy off the next grocery list.

It was kind of Oklahoma to begin offering the family planning insurance, which covers pregnancy tests. It would sure be nice if they'd get their website working, so that I could get approved for the family planning insurance, so I could get proof that I'm pregnant, so I could get full insurance, so I could, you know, go in and finally hear my baby's heart beat and be reassured that he/she is growing enough. Or I could drive *back* in to town by myself during the day, which is a burden when you live in the middle of NOWHERE and which we usually do after work or on weekends together, fill out the papers at DHS and wait two or three weeks or however long it takes them to get around to it just to be allowed to go pee in the cup.

Because *this* is what our healthcare reform is really doing for everybody who doesn't work at a job that provides health insurance: SCREWS US OVER. Yeah, I love you and your assumption that everybody worth anything works for Corporate America too. Man, I can't wait until I have to pay a *fee* for not being able to afford your crappy insurance. And whatever's available from the government for those who can't afford it is probably going to be very similar to Hastings: traumatic to a degree that I would almost rather give birth in a parking lot next time.

So whose brilliant idea *was* it to outlaw a sliding scale for cash customers, so that those who came in with money instead of Blue Cross/Blue Shield cards would no longer be able to afford to be seen? Or to put so many burdens on the insurance companies that they had to raise their premiums to levels that regular people can't afford anymore? I mean, the system sucked before, but it sucks way worse now.

Wow, that was supposed to be a funny story and totally turned into a political rant. I guess I need to go put my grumpy pregnant butt in a hot bath with a fantasy novel.

*NB: Full Disclosure: When Ryan heard my horrified gasp of "FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS?" he said, "whatever, just do it." I was the one who decided, not that we didn't have the money, but that we needed it for other things more. We're not destitute. If you were getting ready to take up a collection for our poor impoverished family, we'll still take it, though.*

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shower adventures!

Daddy was waiting for the shower to warm up, and Baby became curious. He said, "Momma, you better come get this baby!" and I said, ""Oh, she'll learn!" She did learn, but not in quite the way I expected her to.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I came from Dallas, where I knew maybe one or two people with Native American ancestry, for whom as far as I could tell their heritage existed in history books. Of course, I probably do have childhood friends whose homes kept alive a vibrant Native American heritage, but I never knew of it. In my world, the Indians were pretty much defeated and forgotten. I knew of the existence of reservations (I wasn't entirely uneducated) but in any real and practical sense just had no idea that Indians were still out there.

When I moved to Oklahoma, my first big surprise (after the city-shock) was discovering that THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE WHO LOOK INDIAN! Like, woah, that dude could totally be the famous photograph of Geronimo. In a totally not-racist way, I had had no clue that Native American facial features didn't die off with Indian sovereignty (which I later learned also still exists). Again, in a totally not-racist way, I had never seen anyone with Native American features who wasn't predominantly and obviously hispanic. I was from Texas. I just had no idea. (I've since then found out that most of my Texan friends also have no idea, and when I tell them I live in a hub of Native American culture, they kind of say, "what's that?" So don't judge me.)

A few months after I moved to Tahlequah, I saw some news that there was to be a pow wow, and I thought I'd like to go see it. I sat in the stands and drank my root beer and looked at the dancing as one would look at a Civil War re-enactment. "Hey, those costumes are really cool! Hey, this music makes absolutely no sense to my European-trained ear, but it kind of sounds like Last of the Mohicans! Look, big headdresses!"

It wasn't until I met my husband that I began to realize that this heritage doesn't just represent the vestiges of a long-conquered culture, but that it is real, alive and vibrant. His father and brothers participate in Osage ceremonial dancing. When I first heard a conversation among brothers about acquiring an eagle wing (or feathers, or tail; forgive my ignorance, but I don't remember exactly what it was) I kind of thought the whole thing was silly, but as I've been exposed to this heritage more and more I have begun to realize just how deep and important this heritage is.

This area was the end of the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee were removed from the land of their heritage in Georgia and the surrounding area and forced to move to Indian Territory in a brutal trek. When they arrived, they had to rebuild their lives in this new area of rockier soil and harsher climate. For many, the memory is still very painful and present. They brought their Eastern stories and culture, founded a seminary in Tahlequah (now Northeastern State University), and have been active in enriching the culture ever since.

Part of my husband's heritage is Cherokee, and part is Osage. The Osage have been on this land for time beyond history. They were some of the first to convert to Christianity, but are quite proud to have never been one of the five civilized tribes. They did not make peace with the white man, so my husband tells me, but maintained their bad-assery and fierce tribal pride. The Osage is the tribe for which my father and brothers in law dance, and in which my family received our names this past weekend.

The Friend family belongs to the Tzi-Zho Wah-Shtah-Keh clan, which means the incredibly soft plumage underneath the tail of an eagle, but which is often simplified in English to the Eagle clan. The Tzi-Zho Wah-Shtah-Keh are the mediators of disputes, and the clan which provides the chiefs.

The names we received reflected aspects of our personalities as well as characteristics for us to strive for. Ryan's name, Ah-Who Shin, means "the one who carries the sacred eagle wing." The wing of the eagle from elbow to tip is something that can only be carried by one who has achieved maturity and wisdom, and who has seen so much in his life that he has come to humility and an understanding of how little he really has seen in the whole world. My husband is young, but he often does approach a decision with a wisdom beyond his years. His being named for this quality is both a reflection of a characteristic that he possesses and a blessing that he may come to possess it more.

My name is Eh-Nah Doin Pi, which means "the one who looks to the maiden," or the one who can go through the clan giving each person what he or she needs, crying with the one who is mourning and laughing with the one who is celebrating. I definitely think that my name must be much more of a blessing than a description because I don't feel I have this gift at all, but if it's a blessing it's one I'll accept gladly, because I would love to be that person.

Heidi is the first daughter, and all first daughters receive the same name: Khu-Eh Doin, which means "looking at the eagle." It means, more or less, the maiden who receives wisdom and guidance from the sacred eagle and brings it to the people to guide them. First daughters are supposed to be in charge and strong-willed, know what they want and what needs to happen, and to take charge of matters with no uncertainty to get things done. I kind of wish that the first daughters of this clan tended to be a bit more easy-going and easily led, but ah well. Hopefully the understanding nature represented by my name will prevent battles of willfullness represented by her name.

My sister in law and I are not Osage, but we received names because if our husbands pray for us in Osage they will want to be able to say our name, and therefore the Osage give names to women who marry into the tribe. I began my journey not even being aware of this rich and beautiful heritage, and I feel so honored to be welcomed into it now. Thank you, Rauk, for making this possible, and thank you to my Osage family for putting up with an ignorant little white girl as I learned. Not that you had much of a choice. I wasn't going anywhere anyway.

Monday, July 18, 2011


This may be the only squash we harvest this summer, but we're making up for it in tomatoes!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Training our WHO???

There's a word I've been hearing since before my marriage, and which after my marriage has begun bothering me more and more. I'm sure you've heard it, and wives, maybe even said it without really thinking. I may have even said it myself in the past.

"Oh, I'm getting him trained. He puts his underwear in the hamper now."
"I don't pick up after my husband. I have him trained to put his dishes in the sink."
"You just need to train him."

It's always about domestic duties, and includes the assumption that men are helpless but adorable imbeciles when it comes to anything regarding the functioning of a household, and that wives have the strenuous task of "training" them to become fit to move in from the barn and take their place at the head of the table.


Let's start with the least of my objections. While I may have a married, female reader somewhere who began her marriage with a thorough and exhaustive knowledge of how to run a household, I know most of us just didn't. We were brought up to go to college and have a career. We were not taught at our mother's knee how to balance the household finances, how to plan menus, how to cook gourmet meals, how to mend clothes, how to make clothes, how to organize a house, or the best way to clean it. Most of us were taught some of these things; I know no girls who were taught all of them. Once upon a time, I'm given to understand by conservative female bloggers, girls *were* given a thorough education in all these things, and it was the nefarious opening of the doors of employment to women that destroyed the traditions of these beautiful womanly arts. I don't know about that, because I've read plenty of pre-WWII novels that talked about housewives who didn't know how to do their job. David Copperfield, for instance. But whatever the cause, the fact is that in modern American society, most women get married without knowing how to be a proper housewife.

Which is fine. In modern American society, most women work outside the home and, as is fair, divide the household duties with their husbands. Ryan and I have done this. In fact, I counted this afternoon and discovered that I have been a stay at home wife for exactly half the time that I was a working wife. And we divided the household chores. I didn't always feel that they were quite fairly divided, but Ryan didn't always feel that my side of the chores were very well done, so I suppose we were about even in our levels of disgruntlement.

But this was also the time in which Ryan and I were both learning to manage a household. We were not quite both out of college, and we both had heretofore kind of had a college-style attitude toward housework. You know, wait until it becomes unbearably disgusting and then clean all in one day, making sure to include plenty of angst at how this house got so nasty and how the other person needs to learn to pick his/her s*** up.

We gradually became better at the whole keeping our house tolerably un-disgusting thing. During this period, I spent quite my fair share of being annoyed at Ryan for, say, leaving his dirty socks around. But let's face it: the reason the socks bothered me was not because I had a perfect knowledge of how to keep a perfect household, but because I had just recently come to the realization of just how bad the dirty socks made the house look, and had just learned not to leave my own socks around. My frustration was a result of *my* learning, not a result of Ryan's barbarism.

And a magical thing happened. As we got in the habit of keeping the house clean ... we got better at keeping the house clean. Ryan knows that the dirty socks lying around bother me. His socks usually end up in the bedroom now, which is vastly better than all over the house. When they don't, they'll end up on top of the table, because he knows how much I hate picking them up off the floor. It makes me shake my head and laugh. Does that mean I trained him? No! It means that we both have learned how to keep a decent house. Not only that, but when I keep the house clean now (which, let's face it, I'm a stay at home mom, so in a completely practical and unpatriarchal sense that *is* my responsibility), he's more likely to put his things away and not to leave messes. Does that mean I trained him? Again, no. It means that houses, like cities, are subject to the broken-window theory. And that I've become a good enough housewife to take advantage of said theory.

Also. It's not just that we've been learning together. There have been some things that Ryan has taught me about managing a household that I just didn't know. Like, I guess you're supposed to make a menu every week? Never even knew. Definitely didn't learn that one at my mother's knee. My mom just enjoys thinking about the feeding-her-family aspect of motherhood so much that actually sitting down to write out a menu would be as irrational for her as sitting down to write out a list of things I want to knit next would be for me. They're just there, in my brain, more projects than I will ever be able to do. Staring blankly at needles wondering what to make is as incomprehensible to me as staring blankly at a pantry wondering what to make is to my mother. But, as it so happens, I don't like thinking about food - it stresses me out. So I do stare blankly at pantries and wonder what to make. Ryan has been telling me for TWO YEARS to make a menu, and I finally did it last Sunday. And it was amazing. I suddenly knew what we needed at the store, and my dinner-preparation stress was almost nil this week. Of course, if I'd really followed my own system, I would have known that I planned for roast tonight, so I would have put the roast in the fridge two days ago and begun to marinate it yesterday, instead of pulling it out of the freezer at noon and putting it straight into the crock pot. See, I'm still learning.

So, Ryan teaches me things about being a housewife, but I'm supposed to be the one training him?

However. This long-winded explanation was the vastly less-important reason why this idea of training a husband is odious to me. Here's the real reason it gets my goat:

"Yes, I've really gotten my wife trained well. She keeps the house clean, doesn't bitch when I bring home buddies unannounced, and doesn't even ask me to help change diapers anymore. Took a while to train her, but I did it."

HELL NO! I'm not a dog! I am not somehow sub-human just because I'm a woman! I may be a stay at home mom, but that doesn't make me a little wifey-poo whose entire life revolves around keeping the children sparkly clean and the house tidy and the pork chops on the table! You did not TRAIN me! I'm a real person, I have dignity, I have intelligence, and being a housewife is not my equivalent of sitting up and begging for treats!

Oh wait.

So if it's not OK for him to say it about you, why do you say it about him?

Come on, ladies.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Going Crazy

I. Am. Going. Absolutely. Nuts.

How do you other people who live in the country DO it? I've been away from a big city for 4 years now, and I've really been pretty happy. My shoulders don't tense up just from driving, for instance. I eventually got over the lack of Starbucks. But a stay at home mom living in the middle of nowhere? I'm going BONKERS. I've begun having dreams about roads along the side of our property which lead to beautiful suburban developments with ritzy yoga studios and overpriced coffee, and people to meet.

I get nothing done around the house because I spend all my time on the internet trying to feel like I have a social life. It's not a substitute for a social life, of course, so then I distract myself by playing Farmville. I mean, it's 100 degrees outside and I'm pregnant. Of COURSE I'd rather play with a fake farm than attempt to make a real one. I poke around Mother Earth News reading articles about urban sustainable agriculture, and think, "yes! urban! urban is the key word here! urban means no deer ticks! urban green means riding your bike to the museum when it's too hot to weed your edible landscaping!" People, this is not working for Mary Catherine.

I don't know if this is just a pregnancy-related frustrated phase. If it doesn't go away soon, though, I'm going to really have to start considering the possibility that I just can't do this. There's no shame in not being cut out to be a hermit.

At least our watermelons are doing well, and by "doing well" I mean "exploding with vines and invading the peas and the radishes and turnips that we were allowing to bolt and planning to seed-save with." We have ten baby watermelons so far. I had a dream that Ryan cut them all down with a weedeater for no apparent reason, and that I was very sad. It probably had to do with uprooting the two squash plants that had become infested with squash borers; the same squash borers that keep eating our tomatoes. Darn them...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

For the weak, for the strong

In the year or so that elapsed after the Australian Shepherds were banished outside and before Heidi learned to put food into her own mouth, sweeping my floor every day was a sure sign that I was becoming intolerably anal about my housekeeping. Now, sweeping the floor after every meal slightly increases one's chances of being able to walk across the floor barefoot without being overwhelmed by the ick.

She has me in training, folks.

Hygiene is for the weak.
Aversions to dirt and bugs and slimy things such as half-masticated bread balls in the house are for the weak.
Sleep is for the weak.
Heightened emotional states due to pregnancy are DEFINITELY for the weak.

Sitting around for hours doing nothing but playing with the baby and babbling back to her is for the STRONG.

I can't wait until the next one is her age and SHE can be the entertainment. I will referee from up above while I, you know, get stuff done. If my ideas of life with two under two are overly rosy, please don't tell me. Such optimistic ideas will be short-lived enough as it is. Let me enjoy them while they last.


Google search phrases that brought people to my site this past week:

"how I got conned"


"where can I get knives that edible arrangements uses to" (The rest is a mystery since it won't let me scroll over or click on it to see the full phrase.)

Question: what person searching "how I got conned" clicks on a title about hiking? And how do any of my posts relate to knives? I don't remember ever discussing cutlery.

Whatever. Welcome!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

This post brought to you by the snarky comment Ryan made about how I should take more pride in my garden, and would I take pictures of the current weed-grown state and put it on my blog? He didn't think so. To which I said "pish," and to prove that I meant "pish," I hereby present a 100% honest nothing-hidden-with-clever-camera-angles post about exactly how overgrown my garden is.

The jungle

There comes a point in every gardener's summer, I believe, when "well-tended" stops being the goal and "damage control" becomes all one can hope for. I reached that point a few weeks ago, and to justify this event, I will enumerate a few facts:

1) I'm pregnant
2) and tired all the time
3) and sensitive to the heat now
4) and prone to dizzy spells in the heat
5) and our average daily temperature has been bloody hot
6) and I have a baby around whose naps I have to schedule my day
7) and we have a really big garden
8) and just getting it all watered is a pretty big chore
9) and I'm pregnant
10) and have I mentioned that it's bloody hot?

So my MO has become something to this effect:

(register shock and fear) Oh, no! The watermelons are about to be completely choked out by weeds! They are sending out their tender little tendrils and will find nowhere to put their roots down! The bugs will all eat the tiny leaves and they will die!

So the watermelons get weeded. Or at least the weeds get mown down so the watermelons have a better chance.

Damage control.

Today I went carrot hunting. Am I the only gardener to be absolutely frustrated with carrots? They took for.ever. to come up, and when they did they looked like little blades of grass, so I didn't dare to weed. Then they started looking more distinctive, and I thinned them and weeded, only ... they didn't all come up. There are large portions of our carrot rows that just had no carrots at all. So I let them be, hoping that these large portions were just as slow to come up as the rest of the carrots had been to start looking like carrots. And then I started with the damage control, and the carrots were very low on my priority list. Occasionally I would peek among the weeds to see if any carrots were down there, and they always seemed to be not growing at all. While the lush and verdant weeds towered over them, the little tiny carrot plants still looked about the size on the seed packet where it shows you how to thin them. Do they really just grow that slow? Or are my carrots stunted because I've neglected them and left them to the weeds?

So my project today was to rescue the carrots from the weeds. I wasn't about to weed the whole rows in all the places where the carrots weren't, because are you crazy? Instead, I found myself bizarrely hunting for carrots through weeds up to my knees, pulling them up wherever I saw a carrot frond.

carrots, pictured with background of thriving weeds

Welcome to the jungle.

In happier news, garden excitement:

baby watermelons

baby squash

and baby tomatoes
please turn red, little green tomatoes

Corn and tomatoes!

Rows of more watermelons than we will know what to do with