Jun 21, 2017


I'm in the middle of another "deep clean" of my craft room and it's time to say goodbye to some supplies. I've got a biggish box of loved stamps (most not in any packaging), papers, and a variety of other crafty things, and I'm giving it away.

You want the box?

Please leave a comment on this post by Friday June 23, 2017 at midnight my time (Washington DC daylight savings time!). Please make sure to leave a working email or I won't be able to send the box to you.

Unfortunately, to keep down the cost of shipping, I have to limit this to USA addresses.

Good luck!

Jun 15, 2017

The Worst Client Ever

I walked in the room and sighed. This wasn't going to work. My worst client ever (let's call her Mrs. WCE) stood there, looking pretty darn good for her 70+ years. Wrapped in a dark mink coat, and wearing red leather gloves and high boots, her dark brown hair was fresh from the beauty parlor. Mrs. WCE wore bright red lipstick and a little "rouge," and was eager to get going. She was basically a nice person, but a nightmare as a client, constantly asking me the same questions over and over, and just generally annoying me on a daily basis. She had told me that she didn't think a woman could be a good lawyer and that attitude just added to my anxiety.

I'd be driving both of us to her Medicare hearing. (For those of you outside the US, Medicare is our national health insurance for folks 65 and over and some others who are disabled). Medicare had denied her claim for coverage for surgery and thousands of dollars, which my client did not have, were at stake.

The thought of losing made me sick to my stomach, particularly since I wasn't feeling confident. I had left my legal aid job years earlier, but had agreed to take on this case "pro bono." Medicare has an unbelievably thick set of regulations, rivaled in complexity only by the IRS regulations. I just didn't know much about Medicare. I had never represented the elderly when I was at legal aid, as there was a lawyer there who only handled elderly clients. I tried to study the regulations, but every time I thought I understood, I'd find another exception. So I was pretty nervous. Heck, I was terrified because, deep down I knew that, for this matter, Mrs. WCE had the WLE (worst lawyer ever). I'd just prove to her that women couldn't be good lawyers.

Mrs. WCE had had her eyelids lifted. She needed this operation, not to look younger, but because her drooping eyelids were obstructing her sight and she couldn't drive safely without the operation. The plastic surgeon did the procedure, knowing that Medicare covered such medically necessary matters. But Medicare declined coverage, claiming that the surgery was "plastic" surgery and not medically necessary. The doc was looking for his money. I put him off, explaining that the matter was under appeal and that I wasn't charging Mrs. WCE any money for my representation.

Litigation is a show and details mattered, particularly when you aren't sure about the law. I didn't want Mrs. WCE looking like she cared how she looked. Plus, I didn't want it took look like she had any money, especially since she, in fact, did not have any money.

"Could you please take off the makeup and ditch the mink?"

Mrs. WCE looked unhappy. "Why? I love this coat. I never get to dress up. And, I don't want that Judge thinking I'm an idiot."

Apparently, Mrs. WCE equated wearing a decades old, no longer politically correct, mink coat with looking like a non-idiot.

So I told her, "Well, if you wear makeup, it might look like you care about how you look and got your eyes done to look better. And I don't want the Judge to think you can afford to pay this bill. It might influence him. Better to look a little desperate."

Mrs. WCE looked at me for a moment and said, "That's sneaky. I like that in a lawyer."
She left and came back, face clean, with no mink and no red leather gloves.


The hearing room was a windowless room, furnished with a cheap table and some chairs. The administrative law judge sat at the head of the table. In these administrative matters, there is no "other side." It was just the 3 of us. It wasn't a formal trial, and when  if we lost, we could appeal to Federal Court, where Medicare would be represented. That was what I was counting on -- by then maybe I could find a lawyer who had a clue.

The judge had a pen and some paper in front of him, with tons of books on a shelf behind him. I had a binder summarizing the Medicare regulations, and assorted other books and notes and my questions for my client. I could feel myself shaking. Mrs. WCE sat there smiling.

The judge indicated that I should begin.

I turned to my client and said, "Please state your name and address."

Mrs. WCE burst out laughing.

The judge turned to me and said, "She's your mother?"


The judge laughed and said, "I figured. Our parents just can't see us as anything but their kids. Go on."

And I did, getting my Mom to explain the reason for her surgery, cutting her off every time she tried to explain about having to drive to go to Bingo because I wouldn't go with her, or how her head still hurt from the surgery. We got out her story. The judge didn't say a word.

Finally, it was my turn to make my argument, explaining how Medicare was in error. This wasn't going to be pretty. But, before I could say a word, the Judge interrupted.

"Hand me the bills and the Medicare denial."

I did. He looked them over, turned around, and picked up his volume of regulations. After a few moments, he said, "The doctor coded this wrong. He coded it as plastic, not medical. It's a clerical error. I'm overturning the denial. Medicare will pay."

Mrs. WCE let out a shriek. "Joan is so smart! I didn't think she could be a very good lawyer, but she is so smart."

I looked up at the judge, and didn't say a word.

The judge looked at me and smiled. He didn't tell my Mom that I had done nothing to help her other than file the appeal and drive her to the hearing. Rather, the Judge said, "Yes, your daughter is very smart. You are lucky to have her. She did a terrific job. Have a nice day!" Before I could say a word, he left the hearing room.

On the way home, my mom and I celebrated by getting ice cream sundaes. Before we finished, my Mom said, "I know when you went to law school I told you I would never want a woman lawyer. But today I changed my mind. You did a good job. I was foolish back then."

I thought about telling her the truth. But, I just said, "Thanks, Mom. And you were the best client ever."

Jun 14, 2017

Black and White and Aqua

Julie Ebersole posted about the color trend of pairing black and white with a pop of one color. So, I made this card, which uses a soft aqua ink -- Mountain Mist from Altenew -- for the stripes, plus black and white.

The flower (Bloom With Hope) and sentiment (Bows For You) are from The Stamp Market. Partially inked a striped background called Brushstrokes from Stampin Up.

Showed this to my husband, who actually said, "Well, the design structure is fine, but the colors are meh."  What does he know?  HA!!

MOOD WHEN DONE = No complaints here!

Jun 12, 2017

Two "Reaching Out" Cards

 Fell in love with this frame of flowers by Avery Elle, from Love Birds. The first card uses a sentiment from that set and a banner stamp from Simon Says Stamp.  For the second card, I flipped the frame on its side and used a sentiment from a great set by Reverse Confetti called Posted Note Sentiments. Watercolored the frames and added some shine.

Here's a closer shot of of the second card.  There's a die that cuts out the frame. I don't normally buy the dies but I love this popped up.


ps. thanks for the warm comments on my last post.

Jun 11, 2017

Strawberries on a Warm Day and More Talk

There are fresh, local, sweet, strawberries everywhere this time of year. On Sundays, there's a farmer's market just around the corner from our home. In takes just a few minutes to hold a quart in my hands. We eat them plain, but really, they are so good with added sugar on top of a sweet biscuit with just a dollop of whipped cream. Sigh.

However, rather than indulge in a sweet shortcake, I made this card, using Beautiful You by Altenew and a sentiment from The Stamp Market's Bows For You.

The striped paper is from a digital collection from the company formerly known as Pink Petticoat. It closed up shop, but I was delighted to see that the owner/artist has reopened under the name, The Lovely Studio. Gorgeous designs. Just wish the designs were stamps!  I lightly watercolored right over the striped paper.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Happy to be back stamping. Between health stuff and traveling, I've been out of the loop for way too long.

Speaking of health stuff, it's official. I've turned into someone who pretty much just talks about her health. Mike and I are trying to have "medical talk free days," because, honestly, I am so boring that even I am tired of the subject.

Nevertheless, here I am on the blog talking about it anyway because that's what this anxious person does. The short version is that the medication I took in order to avoid heart surgery ultimately did not work. Surgeries are scheduled for August.

The boring version (warning -- log off now) is that the surgeon will remove a piece of my heart that is blocking some of my blood from going to my lungs. This should make it possible for me to walk without being short of breath. No guarantees that it will be successful, but I am very optimistic. (Or else why would I do this?)

A few days later, there will be a "small procedure" where they'll remove the defibrillator that I had put in last year and put in a pacemaker (and possibly another defibrillator -- I just can't go there right now). The pacemaker is necessary because the first surgery will block the electrical current on the left side of the heart and, since I'm already missing it on the right side, my heart will be unable to beat without a pacemaker (there is some mechanism to keep it going between surgeries). Do I trust medical device companies to keep my heart beating? I'm shocked that my MISTI is still working, so what do you think? Eeeek.

Ok, my mind just wandered into a million other medical facts, so let's end this NOW. I'm thinking some strawberry shortcake would be a great distraction....

May 31, 2017

On My Mind and an Update

Getting back to stamping, which is a delightful way to relax. I started by "painting" a quick turquoise background with a Zig watercolor brush. Stamped Altenew's Botanical Garden and a sentiment from a super old set by Technique Tuesday (name unknown). Added a little gold to the center of the flower to try and mimic the gold glitter tape.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Pretty good! And now, after weeks of neglect, I need to clean up my craft room. I'm sure you understand!

Thank you for your kind comments and emails. I spent 5 days in the hospital trying out a drug to see if I can avoid heart surgery. First, I have to give a shout out to Inova Fairfax Hospital's Progressive Coronary Care Unit. Wow, those nurses are amazing. I think someone checked in on me every hour -- and yes, they wake you up for medication and vital signs all night long. Secondly, so far the drug is working well. About a third of the time it works, but then fails, so I'm cautiously very optimistic.  In the meantime, I'm climbing stairs and walking with minimal shortness of breath. I literally had no idea that was possible! I'll decide on the surgery in a few weeks.  Eeek.

May 21, 2017

You Fought For Me

Mr. Elliot, (not his real name**) sat before me in my legal aid office with his 4 year old granddaughter squirming on his lap. He lived in public housing with two grandchildren. That meant that the city owned the building in which he lived and set the rules. And one of the rules was that no one -- not the tenant or his or her guests - could possess a gun on the premises. In exchange, Mr. Elliot got to live in an apartment he could afford. It wasn't grand or particularly nice, but it was all he had.

Mr. Elliot came to me with one of the worst problems a client could have. He and his grandchildren were being evicted. One of Mr. Elliot's kids, who didn't live in the apartment, showed up with a gun and, for reasons I still don't understand, shot it out the window. This eviction would be devastating. If he got evicted, Mr. Elliot likely would end up on the streets, with his grandkids in foster care.

Mr. Elliot was a sweet guy, in his late sixties, suffering from the typical ailments that a low-income older man suffered from -- heart issues, diabetes, a few missing teeth. He handed me a piece of paper notifying him of a court date to decide his eviction. It was (of course) the next day.

I looked at the notice. "Did you get any other papers?"

Mr. Elliot shrugged his shoulders. "I don't read so good. I'm not sure."

I responded, "You realize that once the Judge rules, you and your granddaughters will have to move out?"

"Can't you do anything?"

"Probably not. But, let me think. I'll call the other side's lawyer, and see if I can get an extension. In any event. show up at court tomorrow at 9. Don't be late."

I put a call into the city attorney, hoping to stop the eviction with this sad story, but didn't hear back.

At Court the next morning, the city attorney wasn't interested in negotiating with me. When the hearing started, he went first. A police officer testified that my client's son discharged a weapon inside the apartment. Since I knew it was true, I didn't challenge it. Then the apartment manager testified. I cross-examined him and asked about the required notices.

Well, well, well, it turned out that the manager had not provided my client with any of the required notices. This is what lay people call a "technicality." This is what lawyers call a home run, due process, or whatever you want to call fairness.

I moved that the Judge dismiss the city's petition for eviction for failure to provide the required notices. Spirited debate ensued. The city had screwed up and everyone knew it, but the Judge let it go on for a few minutes. Finally, the Judge dismissed the petition. Mr. Elliott and his grandchildren had won. The city would have to provide the required notices and start the eviction process over. I had bought him some time to find a place for him and the girls.

When we got out on the street, I reminded Mr. Elliott that he needed to find a new place to live and fast. He indicated he understood. As I started to walk away, he turned to me and said some words I've never forgotten:

"Miss Jones (I guess he never quite got my name), I know I have to move. And I have nowhere to go. I don't know what is going to happen. But, you fought for me. You stood up for me. You had your finger in the air, waving it around, and you were arguing just for me. No one has ever stood up for me."

Imagine a life so hard that the only person whose ever been on your side is your legal aid lawyer. I watched him walk away, with a little pep in his step, and wondered where he and the girls would end up.

I never heard from him again.

It's been about 30 years since I saw Mr. Elliot, but I thought of him the other day. I've been in the hospital trying out a new drug. It was Dr. T's idea to give it a shot. He contacted me to say he had an idea. How often does that happen? I have too many cardiologists to deal with and feel like this is the only one who is really on my side -- who cares and gets me and my anxieties. So, I told him. "You are fighting for me. No matter what happens I'll never forget that you cared enough to try."

I don't know the ending to this story, but I know what Mr. Elliot was feeling that day. And it's enough for today.

** a few changes were made to protect identity