Contributing Works Uncategorized

Thy Will Be Done

by Debra Vernon

Change – it is something everyone must deal with, often daily. We start to do one thing, then pivot in another direction to manage another task that has captured our attention. Other times, change comes knocking at the door in the form of good news or bad, and again we must adapt to move forward. Change keeps us from getting complacent and comfortable with our surroundings. It shakes us up a bit.

Recently, the winds of change started blowing in my world. Events beyond my control had me fervent in prayer and searching the scriptures for solace and guidance. I was taught from an early age to pray, “if it be Thy will” when asking anything of my God. It reminds me that He is in control, nothing happens that does not pass through His hands, and He is working all things out for my good and His Glory. I confess it is easy to pray “His will” when I have reason to expect the outcome I desire. It is much harder to do when I truly have no indication of how the situation will play out.

My heart was broken when what I had prayed so fervently for did not occur. I was distraught and foolish enough to start an argument with God. Yeah, you read that right – I argued with HIM. The eternally existing, promise-keeping God of the universe! I shouted out to the ceiling all the reasons I could think of as to why He should have answered my prayers and given me “my will.” Thankfully, He is merciful and gracious, and let me rail against Him until I was physically spent from my anguish, my eyes red from my tears. And then, when all was quiet around me, He whispered, “greater things are coming Debra, just wait.” The uncertainty left me with no choice but to trust Him and ask Him for wisdom to deal with His plan and again pray for His will to be done.

As the days and weeks progressed, I started to see His hand at work. The prayers of many people, including mine, were answered. Doors which were long closed were opened; things fell into place so perfectly and rapidly it can only be attributed to the goodness of God! A new perspective of the potential opportunities before me was revealed as well. None of this would have happened if God had given me my will. He was so right about greater things coming! Imagine that.

But still, I had no peace, as it was apparent that I was going to have to get out of my comfort zone to partake in and be blessed by these new opportunities He was laying before me! I was going to have to make tough decisions about things I loved and cherished! I was going to have to CHANGE. And I was fearful. And that is when I looked at Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Things are still in motion as I write this. Some decisions have been made; others await. But I have peace now. I am not concerned about what is ahead, as my God has confirmed yet again that I can trust Him with all things, both great and small. His love for me is so immense, and he rains blessings down on me again and again and gently chastens me when I get too big for my britches. And I will continue to pray “Thy will be done” because I know He only wants the best for me. My God is an awesome God!

Contributing Works Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Make Tea, Not War

by Mary Murkin

Tea is here to stay! It has been an important part of our history; no less so in times of conflict. There was that little bit of business back in 1773 in the Boston Harbor that seemed to put our treatment of tea in a bad light. This was a key event in the American Revolution against the mother country—the British Empire. There was some nastiness about “taxation without representation” going on and that did not set well with the Sons of Liberty group here in America. The destruction of tea on that given night was a message of retaliation that stood for many injustices that Parliament wished to impose on the colonists. It was not a reflection of our feelings about tea itself.

Historically, tea was fiercely important to the British during World Wars I and II. During WW I, tea prices began to rise because of so many tea cargo ships being sunk by German submarines. The government took over the importation of tea and controlled the prices of it.

Tea was an essential morale-booster for soldiers and greater measures were taken to try to protect it. Two days after WW II broke out, the British government took control of all the tea stocks and ordered that they be safely stored in warehouses outside of the capital in case of bombing.

Due to blockades in the water, tea ships could not get through to deliver tea. The Ministry of Food began to ration tea in 1940. They introduced a ration of two ounces of tea per person per week for those citizens over the age of five. There was extra tea allowed for those in the armed forces, and for firemen and steel workers. Tea was also sent to British prisoners of war abroad. Tea rationing did not end when the war ended in 1945. Tea remained rationed until October of 1952.

At this point in time, we are now lucky enough to get all the tea we want, when we want it and in so many varieties. Let’s hope we will never again have to come to such measures as people had to bear in the recent past. We are lucky enough to enjoy our tea without a threat of it being taken away from us. For that, we should celebrate! Raise your teacups or glasses to a toast and then “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery
170 Worth Street
Asheboro, NC 27203


Contributing Works

Of Raw Eggs and Smashes

By Jimmy Moody

Several years ago out third rock witnessed a partial eclipse.  I happened to be visiting the Ramseur Library at the time and thought I’d stroll down the street and take it all in.  I was raised on Main Street and it was my playground until we moved two miles away when I was eleven.  Two miles is a canyon at that age..

Downtown seemed even more quiet than usual, if that is possible.  I took a seat in front of what (in the old days) was Ramseur’s Mel’s Diver.  I was hoping for a bit of peace to enjoy the rare event.  It soon became apparent to this native son that I wasn’t alone.  From behind me, I heard Melvin ask me how I wanted my burger. “Everything but slaw, Mr. Murry”!  Thirty yards to my right Craven Shoemaker had stepped out from the feed mill to see how dark it was getting.  He told me many times how my Dad snuck into the mill’s bell tower and woke up the Town to celebrate VE day.  Across the street was kindly Doc Whitehead, whose fountain made cherry smashes that were to “die” for. Pep Watkins was selling someone a refrigerator and Hester Gooch was making future business for our dentist, with his counter of candy.  Garland Allen was negotiating a loan at the Bank of Coleridge and Madge Kivett and Page Craven were turning on the lights in their clothing store so no would trip.    Alan Leonard was making out a money order at the Post Office and Grady Lawson stepped away from his carburetors to see the spectacle.   Grant Kivett was in a booth at the Ramseur Diner with Harrison Cheek.  Harrison was reminding the waitress not to forget to mix a raw egg in his milkshake, he said it was good for his hair.  I always thought he had a remarkable resemblance to Glenn Campbell anyway.  Kermit Pell was stacking burlap sacks of various seeds in front of his grocery.  I can still smell them.  

Anyone who grew up there in the mic ’50s and ’60s knows exactly what (and who) I am talking about.  I’ve seen Pearl Harbor, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alamo, Pikes Peak, and numerous other famous and not so famous sites, and everywhere I went I took a little bit of Ramseur with me. This Town leaves it’s imprint with you, and as time goes by, you consider yourself blessed because of it.  I’ve always taken solace in the truth that if you keep people in your heart and honor their memory, they are never really gone.  So for one day, at least for this particular Ramsonian, Ramseur was there in my 10-year-old memory.  Good Lord willing, I’ll see all of you again.

The older we get, the more precious memories become. This is especially true if you were fortunate to have grown up in Ramseur.  Our town is still a great place to live, but the old charm of a small town seems to have faded into memory.  Ramseur used to be a thriving town, with numerous factories and industries. We had a theater, Diary that produced ice cream, several hardware stores, building supply stores, furniture stores, clothing stores, numerous cafes, and of course a bunch of service stations. The old Ramseur High School was the center of activity and Ramseur even had their own marching band.   Highway 64 came through the outskirts of town, but Main Street was still thriving and the “place” to own a business. The Cotton Mill was a major employer, and there was a grist mill in the center of town that ground corn and grain from local farmers into feed and flour.  Some of these memories are expressed in a letter I received from an old Ramseur classmate.  Jimmy Moody graduated ERHS in ’72 and like most of the graduating class, he moved away from Ramseur, but the memories of growing up here remained with him.

Jimmy’s letter evokes memories of a much simpler time…

Contributing Works Uncategorized Wealth of Our Community

Grace Saunders Kimrey: “Poet Laureate of Liberty Street”

Grace Evelyn Saunders Kimrey (1910-2001) was the “Poet Laureate of Liberty Street.” I called her “Miss Grace” in deference, and to flatter her, I once asked if she thought her books would become a “best seller” — to which she replied “it would be nice, but poetry rarely sells!” Another reflection on Miss Grace’s wit is a statement I attribute to her regarding her husband Sam. Although I have remembered it all these years, but can no longer find it in any of her books. You might say it is not poetic, but more of a tribute: “My husband is a millionaire, he told me so today, but if I ever leave him, he will be poor again!”

Certainly many old timers would remember “Miss Grace” Kimrey and her husband “Mr. Sam” (1909-2000). He was a flat surface roofer of the old school using hot pitch, gravel, and mops weighing up to 75 pounds when fully loaded with molten pitch. He retired from roofing in the 1970s and left their son Gary (1931-2019) to continue the trade. In retirement, Sam and Grace had a furniture store in the Vaughan Marley Store building on Liberty Street. It has been vacant for many years and remains so to this day.

The Kimrey’s were active in the business community and regular attendees of the Ramseur Baptist Church (now called First Baptist Church of Ramseur). The church was about 75 yards from the Kimrey’s front door where they served in various leadership roles as Sunday school teachers and officers. Mr. Sam was a dapper chap with interesting hobbies including collecting rocks and arrowheads and participating in community activities such as the Lions Club, the campaign in the late 1950s to light the Ramseur High School Athletic Field. He was also involved in many school and church-related activities — even playing Santa Clause for the local schools.

But back to the poetry of Miss Grace. To my knowledge she wrote four short books and a regular column in a local newspaper:

Songs of Sunny Valley. Banner Press, Emory University Georgia 1954.
The Star of Hope. Banner Press, Emory University Georgia 1954.
Glimpses of Beauty. Banner Press, Emory University Georgia 1955
“The Morning Star.” Bicentennial Edition. (This is a history of Ramseur. ) Published by Grace Saunders Kimrey. 1976.

Miss Grace (Class of 1938 Ramseur High School) had no formal academic training in writing poetry but was obviously well read and gifted. Archibald Rutledge, the Poet Laureate of South Carolina, discovered her and described her as “a poet known for her rare, loving, admirable spirit.” She offered to sign copies for those who sent them to her. I have several of her carefully inscribed books in her neat cursive handwriting.

Miss Grace’s inspiration came from her surroundings and the neighborhood children. My sister Celeste Brady Byrnes and I grew up next door to the Kimrey’s dining room. Our Mother Sally Brady’s beauty shop shared a lawn with the Kimrey’s. The Kermit Pell family lived up Liberty Street and there was always constant street traffic daily and for the church on Sunday (and midweek prayer service). In several of her poems Miss Grace mentioned the people who inspired her – telling them privately they were her subjects. She liked my Mom’s roses and admired her work ethic.

Miss Grace’s book “Songs of Sunny Valley” was based on views from her home and the neighborhood children around her. She described the title of her book as coming from her efforts to name the Kimrey home.

One of her poems which most people can relate to regardless of age:
“How do you feel when you feel old?””

When Mother heard
Some young folks say,
“O, we feel so old today,”
She looked at them
With age-dimmed eyes
As if she wished
To chide or scold
And gently asked
To their surprise,
“How do you feel
When you feel old?”
Songs of Sunny Valley, (1954) p.45.

The inspiration for the title of her book and the name given Kimrey house merited a poem.
“A house with a soul”

We purchased an old, old house for our home
Almost at the foot of a hill
Where the sunshine is brighter
And the bird’s song is lighter
And the valley lies peaceful and still.
There’s a road at the front and a stream at the back
Where in summer the small children play.
Here the sky seems much bluer
And the heart grows much truer
And heaven seems nearer each day.

I prayed for a name for our valley and house
And soft as the zephyrs in trees,
Its words ringing clearer
And I heard what it said with all ease.
“Sunny Valley, Sunny Valley, Sunny Valley,” it sang
And the melody over me stole.
When the voice ceased its singing,
These words were still ringing,
“A house, a house with a soul!”
Songs of Sunny Valley, (1954) p.12.

This short piece highlights some of her work with the hope that becoming acquainted with “Miss Grace” will stimulate interest in learning more about her work. Miss Grace’s recognition as a poet continues with many of her books now available on eBay and Amazon.

Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Yerba Mate (What is that?)

By, Mary Murkin

What has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one beverage?  That would be Yerba mate (pronounced Yer-bah mah-tay)—naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree.  Tribes from South America have sipped Yerba mate for centuries.  These rainforest people experienced effects of nourishment, focus, and invigoration from drinking this infused drink.

Yerba mate is not technically tea, but rather it is an infusion.  The drink “tea” is made from the leaves of an Asian shrub called Camellia senensis;  whereas, the Yerba mate drink is made from the leaves of a South American shrub called Ilex paraguariensis.  Since they are both prepared as an infusion of the leaves into the water, Yerba mate is typically found in fine tea stores.  You can drink the Yerba mate infusion as a warm drink or a cold one.  This is purely a matter of preference.

The nutritional value of the leaves of this rainforest mate tree is exceptional.  The leaves contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant antioxidants.  It was back in 1964 that The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society concluded “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value” and that it contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”  Pretty impressive, indeed!

The caffeine content in Yerba mate is somewhere between that of green tea and coffee.  However, unlike tea, Yerba mate has a very low tannin content which allows it to be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter.  It is also proven that Yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, unlike coffee, therefore it is less likely to cause jitters and stomach acid.

High-quality Yerba mate is shade-grown, which allows it to deliver more flavor and medicinal and nutritional properties.  Enjoying Yerba mate is generally an acquired taste.  The drink will have a somewhat earthy, grassy flavor.  You make it with warm water, and not boiling water, as that would release bitter tannins into the water.  To ease you into acquiring the taste for Yerba mate, you may add a little sugar, honey, milk, lemon, herbs, syrups, liqueurs, or fruit juices.  Yerba mate is one of the healthiest drinks you’ll ever raise to your lips.  Bottom’s up!

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC.  Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery170 Worth StreetAsheboro, NC 27203

Contributing Works Stories

Swimsuit Dilemma

by Debra Vernon

I am blessed to have many friends and acquaintances to share this thing called “life”. And there are two I know I can count on through thick or thin. We refer to ourselves as the “YaYa’s” and we have a grand old time when we are in each other’s company.

A couple of times each year, we try to schedule a road trip to spend some quality time together. Our quality time consists of eating, sleep, laugh and repeat. We do this over a span of one or several days. We have an upcoming beach trip planned for September, and no matter the weather, we WILL have fun when we go.

I have worn the same two swimsuits during our beach forays for several years. I do not use them much, so both are still in decent shape. But I thought perhaps I would procure another one, just so the YaYa’s would not have to see the same old dull and boring ones of years past. Let it be known from this point forward that I am not a small woman. I am not even close to small/petite/slim or any other adjective indicating someone who wears a swimsuit well. I am a chunky chick, and big girls like me can encounter problems when it comes to finding a decent and suitable swimsuit. There are a few stores that cater to the “full figure” woman, and heaven knows I am quite full. So, I ventured forth one recent Saturday to see what the fashion world was offering up for beach attire.

The choices for those who are “normal size” offered up bright colors, cute ruffles/frills, along with one and two-piece options, in halter style, over-the-shoulder straps or tankinis. So cute! But then I passed on through to the chunky chick section. The colors there were not as bold, and although I would never subject the human race to seeing my various body parts dangling outside the confines of a bikini, it would be nice to at least see one on the rack. But all the choices were one piece or two pieces, with the bottom either a pair of shorts, or a skirt looking contraption.

After finding one somewhat pleasing to my eye, and in a size I thought compatible, I ventured to the fitting room. I was sternly warned by the attendant to not try it on without my underwear still firmly in place, and I assured her I would certainly adhere to that request. There were also signs in each fitting room to warn of the dangers of cootie contamination if I completely undressed to try on the bathing suit. Check and check on those two items – I moved on to the try-on.

I understand swimsuits must be made to fit the body closely and also withstand water/chlorine/sand. This often means they are made of a type of spandex material that has lots of give/stretch, and repels water well. However, this also means it takes monumental strength to get the thing on and then up over the body. I am amazed others in the fitting room did not call out to see if I was okay, as all the wheezing, groaning and the slap of elastic hitting fat had to have them wondering what in the world was going on in my little cubby.

By the time I worked the one piece up and over my belly, I had perspiration dripping off me like sweat! No “glistening” for this southern belle! And, I still had to corral the bosoms, capture them under the stretch spandex, and get the straps over my shoulder! This swimsuit did not have a built-in bra, so it was hard to discern if I had placed “the girls” correctly in the suit. But once I completed the task, nothing was hanging out, so I figured I was okay.

A look in the mirror let me know I was NOT okay, as this was not the most becoming look I had ever modeled. I could plainly see if someone approached me with a sharp object, and just lightly touched the fabric over my belly or butt, they would have suffered a debilitating injury from the quick release of the spandex which would whip outward from my space and into theirs. I also noticed my fat rolls had relocated to other parts of my body, mainly up or down, depending on their original location. My muffin top had traveled up to my neck area, while my lower abdomen excess was hugging my kneecaps. All that spandex was squishing me out of my regular proportions! And, probably most concerning, it was difficult to breathe. Breathing is extremely important to me, so I decided to look for another swimsuit. But first, I had to get this one off.

Remember all the sweating mentioned in putting on the swimsuit? Moisture such as that does not bode well for getting a very form-fitting outfit off your person. I took a deep breath (as much as was allowed by the “tougher than steel” elastic encompassing my chest), and proceeded to yank and pull from the top. As I worked my way down, I unleashed body parts that had been confined by the spandex, and they jiggled and wiggled themselves into blissful freedom as they proceeded to let gravity pull them back into their rightful place. I was also able to take a breath, which was quite beneficial. After wrangling around for a few more minutes, I was able to escape the swimsuit, and exited the fitting room with the offending garment in hand to be returned to the rack.

Rather than subject myself to another episode of “chunky chick aerobics”, I decided the two swimsuits already in my possession were quite sufficient for my YaYa beach trip and did not seek out another one. I mean, they cover what is necessary and after my experience of shopping for a new one, I did not care if the two YaYa’s were tired of looking at the old ones. I just wanted to be able to breathe and enjoy the hot tub, without being suffocated by my relocated muffin top.

Contributing Works

The Joy in Beekeeping

by Christina Zink

Being a beekeeper is a rewarding job. Honeybees are fascinating creatures and their social structure is much more complex than some can imagine.

The female honeybee has many roles in a working hive. She puts on the hat of a nurse bee when first born then grows into a guard bee by adolescence and finally becomes a forager bee that gathers nectar and pollen for the hive. A honeybee only lives six weeks and literally works herself to death.

The male honeybee only has one role in the hive and that is to mate. They are called Drones and mate with virgin queens in midflight. The Drone has no stinger and they consume resources, that the worker bees provide, but offer no help. Come Fall the worker bees toss the Drones out of the hive in order to save their food stores for the winter.

The honeybee’s main job is to take care of their queen. There is only one queen per hive and they can live up to 5 years. The worker bees do everything from making the wax hexagon-shaped comb to filling each cell in the comb with nectar and pollen to fanning the nectar and turning it into honey, capping each cell for honey storage and young bees, to feeding the young, each other, and the queen. They are protectors of their hive and control the temperature of their home. Honeybees communicate with a waggle dance to let others know where to find food. They flap their wings to send signals to others for finding their way home to alerting of predators. They sting as a last resort to protect and pay the ultimate price in the process of certain death. They are fearless creatures and yet gentle at the same time.

Beekeepers grow to love these creatures and admire the work they do. Beekeepers are in awe of the social structure and can watch them for hours on end. The beekeeper learns from these creatures and just when they think they have it figured out, the honeybee has something else to teach them.

Being a beekeeper is not an easy job as the main thing for a beekeeper is to keep their bees alive and healthy. They check the hives regularly and act accordingly with food if needed, treatment for pests, separating large hives for more room, and always prepping for the next season. With many things against the honeybee and the beekeeper, it can be a daunting task. When a hive is lost it can be devastating to the beekeeper. There are pests, pesticides, predators, and sometimes just bad beekeeping practices that can destroy a hive. Taking care of these creatures is definitely a job but most beekeepers enjoy spending time with their bees and doing everything they can to help them ensure their survival.

Beekeeping isn’t for everyone but for those who do it, it is a fascinating and rewarding job!

But it’s often said “if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

Contributing Works Stories

Insurance, Heal Thyself

by Debra Vernon

Recently, I experienced some abdominal distress which would come and go, but never entirely go away.  After one eventful morning full of pain and unpleasant side effects, I figured I had better have it checked out.  This is when I entered the world of “healthcare insurance hell” and it has been quite the journey.

If I go to a doctor for anything other than routine lab work associated with a maintenance drug I am on, it is a clear sign I am sick.  When I informed my daughter of my first office visit, she jokingly asked if she should prepare my final arrangements.  She knows if Mom is going to the doctor, mom is NOT WELL.

The healthcare which can be obtained in the US is top notch.  However, if you are blessed to have health insurance, convincing your carrier to let you partake of the healthcare services and/or products which can ease your discomfort and make you well is a job within itself, and not one for the faint of heart.  Luckily, the career path I have had over the last 30+ years has more than equipped me with the education and expertise to “talk the talk” of insurance.

Early on the first morning of this odyssey, I called my primary care provider (PCP).  I explained my symptoms and asked if it were possible to be seen.  There were no openings that day, so I opted to go to a local urgent care.  I did check to make sure the urgent care facility was an “in-network provider”, so my insurance would cover the cost.  They were in-network, so I arrived and was seen promptly.  Lab work as well as an abdominal ultrasound was deemed necessary and scheduled at the local hospital outpatient facility.  Lab work was scheduled right away, and the abdominal ultrasound for later in the afternoon.  Since the hospital is in-network, and there is no pre-approval process for either lab work or imaging, I was able to provide copious amounts of blood that morning and have the ultrasound performed later in the day.  Results of both tests did not clearly indicate the cause of my pain and distress.  I was advised by the urgent care to set up an appointment with my PCP to continue to pursue answers.

Now, it just so happened I was scheduled to see my PCP the very next morning for bloodwork.  I checked in at the window for the appointment, and explained what occurred the previous day, and asked if I could be worked in to see my PCP.  The person at the registration window looked for an appointment and explained I could be seen in mid-August.  I carefully explained I could be dead by then of an unknown cause and needed something just a wee bit sooner.  They said they could work me in the very next morning to see a Nurse Practitioner (NP), and I told them that was fine, and I would take it.  Meanwhile, after providing bloodwork and speaking with the phlebotomist about what was happening, she went with me to another scheduler and lo and behold, she was able to get me an appointment later the same day.  

I return to the office late in the afternoon and visited with the NP, who was very nice and listened intently to my spiel of symptoms and gave me a brief physical exam.  Her thoughts were to obtain a CT scan of the abdomen.  It was late afternoon, and their scheduler had left for the day, but the NP said she would make sure she had the paperwork and everything ready for the scheduler when she came in the next morning.  So, I returned home with a prescription for anti-nausea medication, with hopes the scan would be scheduled soon, so a diagnosis and treatment plan might be obtained.

The next morning (now day 3 of being more than just a little sick), I called the office around 11 am, as I had not heard anything.  When I spoke with the scheduler, she stated she was working with my insurance carrier on getting pre-approval of the CT scan.  I explained that my summary plan description (SPD) stated no prior approval was necessary for imaging.  She told me the carrier did say it was required for this test, and she was working on getting approval from them.  I thanked her for the information as well as her efforts on my behalf.  I believe the folks who work with insurance companies must be angels in disguise, as I know it cannot be an easy job to perform.

The next day was Friday, and day 4 of my misery.  By this time, I was ready to take treatment into my own hands by slicing my abdomen open, peering into the cavity, and yanking out anything I believed may relieve my symptoms.  The phone rang around 4 pm, and I was excited to see the caller ID of my doctor.  However, my happiness was short-lived.  Per the scheduler, she was still trying to obtain approval for the CT scan, but my carrier did not do their own approvals; they outsourced them to another company.  That company said I did not have a policy with the carrier so they could not approve anything.  The scheduler tried to appeal to them with the information on my ID card with the insurance carrier and explained this was now day 4 and the scan was needed ASAP.  They said they could only help once they confirmed I was insured and then it would have to be approved by medical review.  They anticipated this would happen in 4-6 business days.  

As you can imagine, this is NOT what someone who has felt like crap for several days wanted to hear.  I proceeded to enter “insurance mode” and started quoting verse and chapter of my plan document as it related to complex imaging.  I referenced the mobile application for my carrier which had the info clearly stated that no preapproval was required and explained it could be found on the carrier website as well.  I obtained a cell phone number for the scheduler and sent screenshots of both the SPD relating to the scan, as well as my insurance carrier ID card.  I was not rude, but I was firm in my response.  I could tell she was frustrated with the carrier as well, and with the information I sent, she promised to call them back.

While I waited for her to return my call, I was doing my own search for the preapproval company of my insurance carrier.  I did find a page dealing with changes made in 2019 as it related to preapprovals needed for imaging due to a cancer diagnosis.  But that was not the case here.  Someone at that company was not paying attention to the MD orders.

After a few minutes, the scheduler did call back with good news!  I did not have to have pre-approval (imagine that)!  But, since it was almost 5 pm on a Friday, she could not get a scan scheduled until the following Tuesday.  I was still ecstatic, as we were making progress, and I had learned how to alleviate some of the distress and discomfort.  I thanked her for her efforts and told her how much I appreciated her tenacity on getting me the help I needed.  

As I write this, it is the day prior to the scan.  I have some special vanilla-flavored contrast dye to consume later tonight and first thing in the morning (I’m sure it’s just absolutely yummy), and then the procedure will be performed.  Hopefully, it will provide the information necessary to find a treatment plan and get me back to feeling better very soon.

I have figured out my out-of-pocket expense for all of this after deductibles and coinsurance have been applied.  It is quite the chunk of change.  But I am still thankful to have insurance to help pay a large portion of the bills.  I am also appreciative of an MD office that works hard to help me obtain the care I need when I need it, as well as a healthcare facility close to home. But how much do you want to bet that when the bills start rolling in, I will have to review them for accuracy, to make sure they are paid in accordance with my SPD?  There is no doubt I will be on the phone, explaining to the insurance company what their responsibilities are concerning payment of my healthcare expenses.  Insurance, heal thyself – it is desperately needed.  

Contributing Works Stories Uncategorized

How’s Your Garden Doing?

By WT Cox

That is a question that is commonly heard around these parts this time of year.  Here in Southern Randolph County, almost every homeowner has a garden.  Even “town folk” and people living in apartments will have some veggies growing in pots or in flower beds around the house.  I am amazed at how well tomatoes, squash, peppers and herbs thrive in pots.  This year, I planted some onion pods in a few unused flowerpots we had sitting around the house and almost all of them grew to golf ball size onions that I have used for salads and in recipes. The reason for the curiosity about one’s garden is two-fold.  On one side, people may just be curious and wanting to start a conversation, but on the other side, more likely they try to give away some of the vegetables they have grown.  People tend to be generous with the bounty of their gardens.  Once you have planted and tended to one, you surely hate to see the fruit of your labor go to waste, so giving them away to someone to enjoy is a great option.   I try to use everything I grow.  That means cooking fresh grown produce at home or canning and freezing for future meals.  It can also mean sharing with my neighbors and friends. Green beans are always welcome, but they are hard to pick, and when you acquire some, it means more work. Green beans have to be strung, washed, snapped and prepared… but the hard work is certainly worth it.   If you are offered green beans from someone’s garden, then you have a good friend.   More times than not, the offering will be for zucchini, squash or tomatoes, which are all good.   Once these vegetables start coming in, they tend to do so rapidly.  One can only eat so many zucchini before you run out of ways to fix them.  Zucchini can be stewed, fried, sautéed, steamed or served raw…  probably you will serve them several times a week during the peak harvest season and still have plenty to give away.  

Can You Eat Green Beans Raw?

I am not a big gardener.  My father was, and so was my grandfather, and I  have  a lot of memories working in their gardens during my youth.  I used to grow green beans and corn and sell them along the roadside to make extra money when I was young, so I grew up knowing how to raise a garden.  Now, I don’t have time to plant a big garden because my businesses take up most of my time, so I have opted for a nice raised bed garden. My wife Lisa is very understanding with me not having much free time and she helps me when she can. Our hectic schedule sometimes keeps us from spending the time required to have a “great” garden.  A good garden requires a lot of work.  Daily weeding and supervision is needed to keep critters and insects away and prevent weeds from taking over.  This year I put up strands of red survey tape around my garden and that seemed to keep the deer away.  I also use fake owls and a scarecrow along with marigolds all around the perimeter to deter insects. Last year I did not do the work that I should have and my garden did not do very well.  I was determined not to let that happen again this year.  This year, by the 10th of May, I had my garden planted and most of the items were coming up.  My little 40’ x 50’ raised garden seemed to be thriving. Squash was the first to arrive.  We took a weekend and went to the beach and when we came back, my three squash plants seemed to be dying. Squash bugs had taken their toll. I was disappointed that we only got a few squashes before the plants died, but the zucchini plants seemed to be thriving.  I took some seeds from a spaghetti squash I purchased from Food Lion and planted them in two hills just for the heck of it.  They came up and are growing like crazy; they now cover the south corner of my little garden.  So far we have gotten at least a dozen of these tasty squash from those two vines and more to come.

Are Squash and Zucchini Actually the Same Thing? | Recipes, Dinners and  Easy Meal Ideas | Food Network

  My cucumbers began coming in several weeks ago.  I planted six hills of pickling cukes, but only four survived … one I stepped on by mistake while pulling weeds and the other was stepped on by my dog Jasmine (she was helping)…  but four vines survived and are doing well.   I love cucumbers … I could eat them every day.  I prefer small pickling cukes, not over 4 inches in length.  This year I have been getting between 4 and 8 every day from my four little vines… just enough to keep me happy.  My green beans did exceptionally well too.  I planted two 30 ft rows of half runners and about 15 ft of bush beans. So far, we have gotten at least three bushels to can and have given away almost that much more.  I like to fix green beans in my wok, with fresh garlic, olive oil, and salt… they make a great addition to almost any meal. My tomatoes are coming in too.  Right now our kitchen counter is covered in tomatoes in various stages of ripening.  I have learned to pull them off the vines before they get too ripe because squirrels will get them if  I  don’t.  The produce drawer in our fridge is full of zucchini and we have cantaloupes that are just beginning to ripen.   I planted my okra from seed, and probably should have thinned them more because the stalks are too close together now, but still are producing as much as we can eat.  My dad used to pull the leaves off below the okra pods when they were harvested.  He said it made the stalks grow taller and produce longer.   That seems to work. Soon all of these veggies will be gone.  My cucumber vines are already starting to turn brown around the edges, so they won’t be producing much longer.   I will be glad when my friends ask me “How is your garden?  Do you need any veggies?”.

It won’t be long before it will be time to pull up the old vines and plant new greens/broccoli and collards for the fall.  That will be another story.   

Here is a tasty treat that was told to me by my friend Roger Brown.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of yellow squash, try this.  Take a young “baby” squash, one that is only three to four inches long.  Wash and slice in half.  Place a chunk of real butter between the slices and lightly salt, then put into the microwave for 20 seconds.   Yum!

Contributing Works Tea Talk

When Tea Leaves Talk

By, Mary Murkin

Gather ‘round and ye shall see, many answers in the leaves of your tea.  Tea leaf reading is guaranteed to draw a crowd at any restaurant, tea house or neighborhood party.   This is a relatively easy, equally light-hearted and very accessible way of gazing into the future.  The leaves can speak for others or for the reader. 

Reading loose tea leaves is an ancient practice of interpreting patterns made by the leaves in the bottom of your tea cup.  The first evidence of tea leaf reading in the western world was in medieval Europe.   The heyday of tea leaf reading occurred during Victorian times.  The Victorian Era was that period in history when Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire from 1837 to 1901.  This was a period of great peace and prosperity for Britain.

Tea leaf reading took a real nose dive after the invention of the tea bag in 1908.  Other forms of entertainment—television, DVDs, computers, internet– also began to push this pastime to the background.  HOWEVER, tea leaf reading is beginning to make a comeback!  There is a renewed popularity of nostalgic times gone by.

People are rediscovering taking time to enjoy a cup of tea, visit with a friend, share ideas of their thoughts, dreams, or worries, and wonder what the future might hold for them. Tea leaf divination can be done after one has finished their cup of tea and talked about what is on their mind. The tea leaves can tell a story.  One must remember that tea leaf reading is a subtle blend of mysticism, imagination, intuition, and story-telling.  A good tea leaf reader takes many things into account when preparing to read tea leaves for another person. The main things they focus on are the interests or curiosities of the client who is having a reading.  For the most part, tea leaf reading is considered a form of entertainment. One would not base any serious decisions on what the tea leaves had to say. So, to see what the leaves have to show, first pour your cup of tea, and then BOTTOMS UP!