Thursday, October 25, 2007

Go Sox!

This place is just nuts about its baseball team -- especially now that the Boston Red Sox are in the world series against the Denver Rockies!
Ever since we moved here in mid-May, it was not uncommon to see people all around town sporting a Sox t-shirt, sweatshirt, baseball cap, tattoos, etc on game day. I remember the first time we were at the library for storytime and half the moms there were in Sox-wear!
I thought Dallas would have been a hotbed for supporters of its home teams, after all, the Cowboys are legendary, too and Texas is certainly a state where towns live & breath by the football season schedule. But, the displays here put those fans to shame!
When we took our Duck Boat tour of the city, our driver/captain could hardly get a sentence or two out before he had to refer to the greatest baseball team - ever. And, anyone who dared to identify themselves as a Yankees fan was offered a special view of the Charles River....a very up close and personal view.
Go Sox!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Temporary Art

Peanut likes to sit out on the balcony with her chalkboard to draw.

But, to see what she's created you have to be quick.
Almost immediately after she's drawn her piece of artwork, she announces "Its old" and wipes it away.

On Falling

I feel like we are living in the middle of a postcard. "Fall in New England" sounds more like an event to me than the autumn season everyone else experiences. Even as I drive Peanut to her playcare, we cruise down a winding community road lined with low walls of stones stacked a foot high to mark yards. The yards behind them now complete for my attention with leaves of all those autumn shades - some which I feel I've never seen before even though I've certainly seen leaves change color all my life!

Indeed, it is a beautiful time.

We took our leaf "peeping" (yes, the official term) tour through New Hampshire and Vermont the other weekend. Our route followed I-93 North cutting through the White Mountains into northern Vermont before heading east towards Lake Champlain. I was stunned by the scenes in the White Mountains. We were dwarfed by the range and in awe of the puffs of trees as far as we could see. As you looked across the evlevations, you could see the various stages of fall all at once. The highest trees were already showing their skeletons while on the lowest level some held on tightly to green leaves.

Vermont seemed to have a ban on roadside billboards and unneccessary signage which all added to its decidely rural appereance. I expected moose, deer (which I spotted several of) and other wildlife to jump across the road at any moment. Many of the northern towns seemed uncomfortable without the blanket of snow soon arriving; kind of like a teenage girl out in her bikini for the first time on a beach. Somehow I sensed that the whiteness and ice would make the places more complete - not neccessarily in a serene, holiday way, but in the way that snow fills in the gaps, covers the unsightly.

We spent the night at the cozy Black Bear Inn where we comfortably settled into a 'superior suite' so Peanut and Tex could go to bed early and sleep peacefully in their own room while mama and papa relaxed in our own space. The restaurant was extra accomodating for the needs of little ones even though we appeared to be the only guests in the 'under 60' demographic. Perhaps Leaf Peeping isn't such an extreme sport and doesn't draw the young crowds? It was a perfect event for us - most of the sights could be enjoyed from our car where everyone was comfortably strapped in :-)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Aspen Dental - where 4/4 of our patients suffer from periodontal disease


Thank goodness I made my annual check-up and cleaning appointment at my local Aspen Dental clinic and not just at a regular dentists office!

How else would I have known, that I, too, needed a Stage One Deep (not deep, deep) Cleaning Management Plan to cope with my stage of previously undiagnosed periodontal disease?!

I found my way to Aspen Dental from the list of providers my dental insurance plan works with. Evidently Aspen Dental is a hot one for them as I scrolled through page after page of names of dentists associated with the numerous Aspen Dental clinics around us.

OK, that made me a little leery. It already sounded like a quickie lube chain,but I figured all I need is a cleaning to get the tartar scrapped off my teeth, so, it should be alright. Right?

Aspen Dental Woburn sits in a strip mall off the interstate. The interior seemed clinicy enough. I had plenty of time to soak it in as I sat waiting for 45 minutes in the waiting room. Plenty of time to peruse the notice on their new oral cancer screening program which they hope will one day be as common as mammograms, pap smears or PSAs. I agree, early detection of cancers is important, but when the screening is a "TM" and presented on a sheet with statistics obviously intended to frightened you, I begin to wonder.

Finally, in for my X-rays because you see, Aspen Dental requires that you first make an initial appointment for X-rays and a evaluation to determine what level of cleaning you need before you can come in for the actual cleaning. OK, so, my dentist in Coppell did this, too. There I also thought it was a colossal waste of my time and a chance for them to double-bill the insurance, but I supposed this is just the way it works nowadays.

But, these were to be no ordinarily wing-bite X-rays. The technicians announced I will be having 18 x-rays! She claimed it was the normal "FMX" that everyone has every 3 - 5 years (so infrequent due to the large amount of X-raying required!). Its needed to review the health of not just the teeth, but roots as well. OK, fine, let's do it.

Then 15 mins later, I'm being led down the hall past the cubicles of dentist chairs to an empty one for me. In the cube, a wall poster of the stages of periodontal disease. Flyers of periodontal disease. A laminated USA Today story linking periodontal disease and heart disease. A brochure of Arestin (TM) antibiotic used to treat periodontal disease. A sample Rota-dent toothbrush and brochure. Hmmmmm, you think they're trying to tell me something? I suspected periodontal disease must be their speciality.

So, unsurprisingly, the dentist suggests I need a special "Deep, not deep, deep where we have to numb you all up" cleaning for my early stage periodontal disease. I make her explain in detail, point out on the X-rays exactly where this disease is. She fumbles a bit with mentioning the antibiotics and how I probably don't need it, but you never know until they begin to clean. The traditional part about cavities, etc, was quickly dispensed with.

From the dental cube, I'm taking to the "Appointments and Payment Planning" station. I see the lady filling out paper work with number like $800, $500 and $300..... and I'm beginning to get angry. I feel as if I've been set up all along and now comes the closer.

The $800 is the total cost of the Treatment Program Recommended by the Dentist. $500 is what my insurance would cover, leaving me to pay $300 out of pocket. That's outrageous I have to exclaim! Are they crazy, I think? I just want my teeth cleaned.

I'm fed up with it all and make the lady go through it line by line. Oh, what's this - a $150 toothbrush. "Yes, its recommended". I don't want it. "But, its what we suggest." I don't want it. "We recommend an electric toothbrush." I have one, I don't want it. Oh, and the $30 mouthwash - I don't want it. And, the $20, special paste - I don't want it. And the antibiotic which is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women - I don't want it.

And, then the follow up visit in 3-months with more over-priced mouthwash and special paste. Don't want it.

I refuse to sign the form outlining the program and related costs and my obligations to pay them.

I was just steaming as I left this schister scam clinic. My poor husband had to listen to me rant about it for the entire 20 minute drive home -- and many more times that day. And, now you had to suffer through my re-hash of it all. I could barely sleep last night thinking of all the dirty tricks they pulled.

I thought dentistry was an honorable profession! Its scams like this that drive up health care costs for everyone and mess up an already fragile system! Its schisters like this that take people for fools and steal their hard-earned money!!!

And, I'm not the only one to clue into this:
Boston Yelp
Aspen Dental scores single star in reviews
Complaints Board #1
Complaints Board #2

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pick a pail of apples

Its apple-picking season!

What fun! Some locals think its been a bit too warm to pick apples, but we enjoyed it so much, we've been twice!

Our first visit was to Belkins Farm (aka Lookout Farm), which claims to be the oldest continuously working farm in the US. The grounds were immense, very clean and full of fruit.

It was a cloudy Friday morning when we arrived which helped keep the crowds down. After purchasing our apple bags, we loaded up on the train which circled the massive orchard. At each stop, the conductor called out the apple varieties nearby. We opted for the stop near the playground, but found plenty of perfectly riped apples just a few steps down the aisle.

Peanut easily reached the dwarf apple trees with low hanging fruit. Tugging with all her might, she snatched a few. The books we read at the library about apple picking specifically said not to pull, rather to twist and lift, but we went for it anyway. Baby Tex bumped along in his stroller.

Our bags were quickly filled and we spent some time peeking at the animals and eating a small lunch. There were supposed to be food concessions there, but for some reason they were not open so be sure to bring your own!

Because Papa wanted to pick, too, we drove a bit further on Sunday to Tougas Farm. The weekend brought out the masses and by the time we wandered into the orchard around noon, many rows were picked clean! We still filled up our bags, and sampled some apple cider, apple cider doughnuts and apple crumble pie.

From our bounty of apples, papa and Peanut made two apple pies from scratch. And, last night, I made a batch of applesauce. Many more crispy and extremely flavorful apples await in the fridge. Perhaps next I'll make some oven-baked apples.....