Friday, May 24, 2013


So we all know that I moved to Portland last October, based in large part on a sign from the PattyPan Squash Gods. Well, plus Kim lives here, and she swore to me (liar) that it never rains (big liar), that it’s really just “cloud mist” that envelops the atmosphere (did I mention that liar thing?). Right.

But The Kone and I have been settling in, in spite of the many quirks that Portland is home to, including an inability to have any single street actually go through more than, say, 4 blocks. They might as well rename this city T-Stoplandia, or OhAreYouLostLandia, or perhaps HaHaGoodLuckGettingThereLandia. I think that might be next on the county’s docket, a renaming to a more accurate moniker.

Still, in spite of our newfound love for this strange land, The Kone and I had no intention of buying a house here. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada. After all, I’m a Midwestern girl at heart, and sometimes I pine for my endless cornfields, blazing hot muggy days, feet of snow, and oh yeah – houses that have some actual square footage. Mainly that.

Because my mom has been determined that I should buy a place, so she sends me listings, I go to the occasional open house, then back away in horror at the paltry size of basically everything in Portland. 600-800 sq. ft on the main floor? Umm, in the Midwest we call that a closet. Even the classic bungalows in Chicago – the housing that to my mind is parallel to the ubiquitous Craftsman houses here – have way more space. Maybe we have more stuff. Maybe we like keeping open the option of having our Midwestern cattle or corn grow inside the house. Maybe the City of Big Shoulders isn’t just a cute nickname.
I have no idea.

All I DO know is that these tiny wee houses were damn expensive, like $350K and up for a shoebox. So I humored my mom by looking at the listings, going to the occasional open house, but having no intention of buying anything – also because I didn’t know the different areas of Portland enough to know where would be a good place to buy.

Then came Silverton. Where Hated Cancerchick Friend Kathryn lives. (Kathryn is lovely in every respect – sharp, funny, uberwitty, kind, genuine – but she’s also on occasion wittier than I am, hence she must be hated.) The first time Kim and I went down to Silverton to see HCF, it was a dark rainy night, but even through the pelting rain, I could see the town all twinkly with Christmas lights, and I thought, wow, it’s like Bedford Falls!

Me: Look, Kim, it’s just like Bedford Falls!
Kim: You’re so weird.

Anyway. This meant that one time I mentioned Silverton to my mom, and she latched onto that like Kone on an Italian beef sandwich, which is to say quickly, determinedly, and while I wasn’t looking.

Which is how sometime in April, my mom sent me a listing for The Manor, as I have since christened it. Fate conspired to keep me away, perhaps to see if I really wanted it – the guy who sent the listing to my mom never returned my email, and then there was some confusion on the part of the listing agent and we didn’t get to see the inside as planned. I was ambivalent – it was probably a mess inside, or at least kind of meh.

But what was probably an errant pattypan put the thought in my head that I must see the inside of this house. So I went back down to Silverton, and as soon as I stepped inside, I knew.
This was my DreamHouse.

High ceilings, gorgeous original woodwork, and oh, that staircase. The staircase! Swoon. Straight out of IAWL, my friends. AND! The house came with an entire extra plot of land – room for my tomatoes and for The Kone to run around!

Really, I had no choice.

So after the usual bargaining and back and forth and rigmarole, which I won’t bore anyone with, my offer was accepted, the inspector said that out of the hundreds of houses he’s seen of this age, this was the one in the best shape, and my mom started ordering furniture.

It’s a historic house  - the Timothy-Geneva-Allen House, built in 1890 – and I am its latest steward who will bring it back to perfection. Oh, it’s pretty close, but let’s face it, the ugly 1970’s wallpaper in the stairwell has to go, and the renters of the last few years didn’t do the place any favors.

There are 4 bedrooms upstairs, including the Anne Frank room which has a wee door that leads to an odd hidden room big enough to fit an entire Guatemalan family in there. There’s a garage-barn (henceforth known as The Carriage House), 2 extra sheds, and a canning room/wine cellar in the basement. There is apparently a family of deer that ambles through the yard most mornings on their way from the transgender mayor's house (he lives on the next street over) to the nearby creek, and possibly a skunk family that tries to take up residence under the porch.

It is perfect.

You are all welcome anytime. Croquet and mint juleps on the lawn will be forthcoming.....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Miss Tasha, Upset Again

So I recognize that I’ve been a little, shall we say, lax in writing my usual charming and witty blog posts, to keep my legions of fans entertained and enthralled. What with buying The Manor and all that, some things fell by the wayside.

No more.

Especially since the purchase of The Manor - my very own 1890 drafty old house -  means that I’ll have many tales to tell, as we all know that everything falls apart under my watch. Always.

Today though, we’re going to revisit one of Miss Tasha’s favorite topics: health insurance. Favorite topics to rant about, that is. Because BCBS has provided some major suckage over the years, in many stupid and fascinating ways, that have left me in tears many a time.

But now that it looks like I’m staying in Oregon for the duration, I decided (fool that I am) that I should look into actually getting health insurance in OR, as opposed to continuing to pay for insurance I’m not using in IL, but am too paranoid to let go of. With good reason, as it turns out.

Because last week I called Kaiser, and spoke to 2 perfectly lovely agents who were OH so helpful. And nice! Bending over backwards! This in spite of the fact that the VERY FIRST words out of my mouth when I talked to each of them were:

“I’ve had cancer – is this going to be a problem as far as my getting insurance?”

Oh NO, I was told. Certainly NOT.

Fool that I am, I believe them. And filled out their stupid and annoying 20 page form detailing every bit of my medical history. And waited.

And there was my response, 3 days later: denied. For what? Why, The Cancer of course!

What. The. Fuck.

Had they told me before I filled out their Stupid-Ass Form that it would be pointless, I would have been slightly annoyed, but that’s it. That was kind of what I expected. But now?

Now Miss Tasha is pissed off. And bitter. Oh so bitter.

So I assure you, come January 1sr 2014, when the Affordable Care Act takes effect as far as pre-existing conditions, I’ll be back on Kaiser’s doorstep, thumbing my nose at them, oh yes.

And you know how right now I barely ever go to the doctor? It’s true. I stopped seeing my oncologist, since she’s of the “no scans without symptoms” school, doesn’t believe in the use of tumor markers, and doesn’t even do any blood tests. So I basically go to her to get felt up, which, quite frankly, I can do on my own well enough. Hence, no more onc, and I just go for my mammo once a year. Simple enough. Trust me, the last 3 years, BCBS has made WAY more money on me than they’ve paid out.

Once I’m covered by Kaiser though, I’ll be damn sure to get my money’s worth. Oh yes. Hell hath no fury like a woman who’s wasted her time filling out a lengthy Stupid-Ass Form, time that could have been better spent in a myriad of ways, like getting through level 273 on Candy Crush.

So those of you who insist we don’t need health care reform because you have your perfect happy little plans, well, I’m tired of it. Our system is broken. We need to do something, anything, to fix it, or at least start to.

This reminds me of states like Texas and Oklahoma, whose congressmen vote against federal aid for other states, but are there asking when suddenly it’s their state in trouble. Of course they are. Because no one gives a shit until the chickens come home to roost – and eventually, they always do.

Trust me on that.