IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE: Big Thoughts: Health, Government and the Ukraine.


Big Thoughts: Health, Government and the Ukraine.


Paul your Barista

Paul your Barista

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul and I’m happy to be here once again in the garden tending to your needs for a cuppa, a biscuit and scones. I must say, it’s great to see you all here in this relaxing atmosphere surrounded by flowers and butterflies. Have a seat where you choose, at a table in the sun or shade, and I’ll be happy to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. We can relax while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been? I see from our friend Willow’s last post that she has had some furry visitors this week – did you have any visitors?


This week has been very peaceful for me, no major issues. I was accepted for a Canadian government prescription plan called Trillium. It is designed for those who are on low income, as I am on disability. That is a relief. It astounds me how much paperwork and how difficult and time-consuming it was to get through the hurdles. I am relatively well educated and had enlisted the aid of the hospital social worker at dialysis. It took numerous meetings and volumes of paperwork and assistance from a city EHSS worker (Emergency Health and Safety Services) to get to this point. It occurred to me that this process is so disillusioning that very few would make it to the end. It was instituted to help those in need and yet it certainly is not accessible to that demographic. I would say that the enrollment is kept low by the hurdles that have to be crossed for entry. I cannot see how this would be of help to most of those in need due to its lack of accessibility. Have you found any government services so complex that they are virtually inaccessible? Any services that are designed to help but cannot be used because of that complexity? Any paperwork horror stories? I am suspicious that many such services are designed that way in order to reduce the number of users – or a least no consideration was given to the users during design.


Speaking of governments and such, a lot of the talk around here this week is about the Ebola virus. It enters most conversations. Although it is relatively small as outbreaks go, it is the 50% mortality rate that catches everyone’s attention. The Americans have moved two infected American aid workers back to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta Georgia for treatment. There is one suspected case in Canada and 22 in the US currently but no confirmed cases. All the other cases have been in Africa. Apparently it is difficult to contract from others and requires touching body fluids for transferral. What are your thoughts on this?

Is this a topic of conversation in your area? I did some numbers and the chance of a random infection is somewhere around the chance of winning a multi-million dollar lotto – pretty low. And the real chances in first world countries are much less than that given the geographical focus of the outbreak – perhaps one in billions. And yet the topic is on the top of many minds. What do you think? Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a biscuit, a piece of cake or a scone?


Still with governments, Russia seems to be having a bit of a problem in the Ukraine this week. Putin’s play to take back the Ukraine or parts of it because of their application to the EU seems to be failing of its own accord. He has agitated and armed the resistance and supplied members with weapons. The turmoil caused was gradually breaking apart the Ukraine, but they have rebounded and now state troops are pushing back the resistance.

It looks like the resistance will be out of business shortly and Putin will lose face. He has stationed thousands of Russian troops at the border and the big question is what will he do next? Do you think we can offer him a way out, a way to save face in the world forum? Putin is inordinately sensitive to his reputation as a strong leader and may simply engage in war to satisfy his ego.

The problem is that Russia has recently become more integrated with the rest of the world and dependent on trade. For the first time in decades there are ample supplies of food and other goods on store shelves for the population. He can no longer act in a way that may jeopardize this or it could result in a popular uprising and a spiraling back into a dictatorship and hard times. What do you think of the situation?

What will Putin do next? How will this affect our daily lives in our respective countries? Do you think this could be the dangerous beginning of a big problem or is it just a tempest in a teapot Personally I didn’t think it would go this far before blowing over but apparently Putin’s support in the Ukraine is much lower than he anticipated. Once again one man’s desire for power may very well condemn many innocent people, including women and children, to war and starvation. I hope not. We’re taking suggestions on how to placate Putin and will pass them along to the UN ( 😀 ). Any ideas?

Willow and I hope you have enjoyed our visit in the garden with a cuppa and conversation. It has been a joy to sit with you once again and solve the world’s problems. If only governments would listen to us here in the garden, they would make much better decisions, don’t you think? Please help yourself to another cuppa and a sweet. I’ll seeyou here next week again and may your days be filled with happiness and joy. We’d be honored if you would take a look around at Willow’s site while you are here, she has some wonderful posts.

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  I would  tell you how very welcome  you are  and how much I look forward to our weekly get together, and that I do hope  they continue for a while  to come. So  for now  be well and be happy.  😀

If we were having coffee I’d ask  you : would you like another  cuppa, or  a biscuit . I’d  tell you I have really  come to enjoy  these chats  and I’d  love  to hear  what you would  tell me , If we were having Coffee  Original idea  from  http://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/


42 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paul
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 01:04:57

    Thank you Willow for giving me this opportunity to be in on the garden chats. I am honored that you and your readers have welcomed me with open arms.


  2. willowdot21
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 06:56:36

    Hi Paul I certainly am enjoying our coffee this morning, It is a good job that that we erected the canopies and supplied umbrellas for those who prefer to sit out here rather than in the conservatory or sitting room! Bertha and blown from America with a vengeance! The rain is falling like stair rods and parts of the UK are already suffering from flash flooding! Motorists have had to abandon cars on Motorways and again many homeowners have been flooded out of their homes some not long after just getting back in after the last of the floods!Okay wellies are the order of the day! What I really wanted to say was how much I agree with you that forms “designed to help “people claim disability allowances or any sickness allowances, by which ever title they choose to give them , are too long and too difficult for anyone not of the very top notch intelligence to cope with! Even those who are astute enough to deal with them find them long, cumbersome and full of trick questions! So unless you are feeling tip top ( which if you need them you are not!) and have a team of experts to help you beware!
    I had to fill many of these such forms in after my accident , I was lucky and had a clever husband to help me! He was furious at the complexity of them all. I agree with you Paul they are designed to deter all but the very determined or
    desparate!…….. I think I have rattled on enough on that , though there is a lot more to be said if anyone care to jump in!
    Ebola is large in conversation here and a worry though I understand what you are saying Paul about the way it is transmitted and the size of the outbreak in comparison to other epidemics of the past , my fear is that we live in an ever shrinking world , trains boats , cars and especially trains and so it has the means to travel. Lets not get carried away though let hope and pray that they scientists find a cure and an inoculation to prevent this nasty cruel disease!
    Putin… I am not going to say too much about him but all things weighed up I think he is dangerous with a capital D! Right can I have a black Americano please and a small piece of carrot cake………….. not quite that small, Paul 😀 xxxxxx
    Yes Paul it is as difficult to get help here in the UK as it is over the pond


  3. Paul
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 08:07:52

    Thanks Willow for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad to hear that we (Canadians) are not alone in findng gov’t forms unnecessarily complex. One black Americane coming up! And a “healthy ” piece of carrot cake. You do realize that this cake is calorie free? It is one of the perks of the electronic world. Your point about it being a small world transporattion wise is valid with respect to Ebola.In fact never has it been smaller, with crowded internal environments and such.
    I do hope that the Putin situation is handled delicately. We could all have a lot to lose.
    Weather – wow, sounds like you guys are getting a pounding here in England. Our canopies are holding up well. Aside from the damage and inconvenience, I do like to sit and watch and listen to the rain. As long as there is nio too much of it.
    Well, I hope you stay dry Willow and we’;ll keep your insides warm with Americano and Carrot cake.


  4. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 11:31:21

    The coffee is heavenly. Where did you buy it? No, thanks. No sweets for me.
    There are so many hot spots brewing simultaneously in this world, I don’t know where to begin. I wish we could solve them in the real world as we can in the garden.


  5. 1jaded1
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 15:54:34

    Hi Paul. May I please have a double espresso? Thank you. I’m glad you were able to jump that last hurdle and cross the finish line.

    I hope cooler heads prevail in all of the areas in discord.

    Not too much has been said about Ebola, here. I remember working at a bookstore in the 90’s and books such as ‘The Hot Zone’ were flying off the shelves. Movies such as ‘Outbreak’, in my view, sensationalized rather than educated the issue. That said, we have a higher population now and more opportunity to spread the disease. I hope it doesn’t turn epidemic.

    Thank you for another thoughtful post.


  6. Paul
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 16:26:10

    Hi 1J1! Great to see you again – one double expresso coming up. Yes, I know what you mean about sensationalizing outbreaks. There were a lot of books and movies out back then on the topic. There are still quite a few that are out today. It has remained a hot topic even over the years. We know a lot more about infectious diseases today but you are right – our population and interconnectivity have both increased. Which, I am sure is the reason why the CDC is taking such an interest. Ebola is not very common and only occurs on third world countries, so not much work has been done on its cure. I am sure if we focus on it , we can find a cure for it – it’s just a matter of time. Although it has a high fatality rate, it is difficult to transmit so a bit of care and attention can seriously limit it’s spread. Thank God it is not transmitted by air.

    Well, thank you for dropping by 1J1. It is always a pleasure to see you here in the garden. I hope your week goes well and we look forward to you returning.


  7. markbialczak
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 18:26:19

    I am glad to hear that you were accepted into Trillium, Paul. I hope the Canadian service meets your needs.

    Here in the States, government organizations can be tough to navigate. After I was laid off, I had some difficulties with the unemployment system. Online, phone, mix and match, finally it got straightened out and my paperwork was approved and my checks came … I always looked for jobs, seriously and diligently, and went to all of the mandated workshops and meetings, but somehow the system made me feel like I was not doing enough to get another job. Anyway, as you know, I kept at it and tomorrow start week five of the new job. Yay. Thanks for letting me get something off my chest this Sunday Cuppa!


    • willowdot21
      Aug 10, 2014 @ 18:31:48

      Thanks for sharing, I think it is so wrong that people on benefits should be made to feel beholden.


    • Paul
      Aug 10, 2014 @ 19:23:34

      Hi Mark! Thanks for dropping by and have a seat. I’ll get you a cuppa of your choice and don’t forget the cake and cookies are calorie free here in Willow’s garden.

      Yes, I can certainly understand your frustration with the system. One of the things that bothered me a lot was that I often got different answers to questions from different government officials. The training they give the employees is very poor and a lot of them make up their own interpretation as they go. I actually had a 15 miunte discussion with one worker who insisted that what ever I received i had to pay back when I got the next cheque. Ha! That was a bit ludicrous. I convinced her that wasn’t an aid program, it was a loan -Ha! She came around, but I was flabbergasted that I, with no program knowledge . had to argue with her, who was supposedly admininstering the program and I was right. Yikes! I wouldn’t want these guys on emergency servivces – the patients would die while the service providers stood around and argued what they should do. I actually applied for assistance at one point when i was in hospital long term with cancer and it wasn’t clear if i would live or die. They kept asking for more information and then had 4 month delay while they said they were getting French documents translated into English, and then asked for more info again, even though the doctors sent all the requested info each time. After about six months, it became clear I would live and so they denied the assistance. Ha! Lot of help that was. i am convinced they were waiting for me to ether die or get better and either way not require the assistance.

      Anyway, thanks for chipping in with your experience Mark. It s good to know I’m not the only one. Congratulations on your new job, I hope all is going well. Have another cuppa and thanks for dropping by.


  8. tesscol
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 19:55:57

    Well Paul I would really enjoy having a cup of coffee in your garden, especially if it was cappuccino which happens to be my favourite. I would rather not discuss world affairs as we have a constant barrage of news every half hour on the radio.
    I would tell you about my family,some of whom are touring Italy. On Tuesday evening they arrived in Verona and went to the Opera! It was a splendid production of Carmen.
    Previous to that they had spent 3 days in Venice.
    Another of my son’s was performing in light opera the same evening!! He was here in UK though at a smaller venue in a small town called Harrogate. You might be interested to know that his son is taking part in drama at a festival in Edinburgh.
    This takes place every year.
    I wonder if you have any family? I am very proud of mine and love to hear how they are all doing.
    This coming week I will be spending time with Willow……..I am really looking forward to seeing her again. I will no doubt be having a few cups of coffee with her. Thanks for inviting me……I enjoyed hearing your news.


    • willowdot21
      Aug 10, 2014 @ 20:06:34

      And you have every right to be proud xxx


    • Paul
      Aug 10, 2014 @ 22:24:00

      Hi Teresa! Thank you so much for dropping by- have seat and here’s your cappuccino. Would you like a sweet? They are calorie free only in Willow’s garden 😀 Wow, your family is having a great week! It is so wonderful when those close to you are are enjoying life. The family in Venice and Verona- that’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, maybe someday. To see an opera in Italy – wow, wow, wow. Incredible.

      Your son who performs in opera is equally impressive. That takes a great deal of skill – you must have a musically inclined family. There is a famous festival close to here (Ottawa) as well, in Stratford Ontario – about a 5 hour drive. It is mostly Shakespeare but does include other aspects as well. No doubt named after Stratford -on-Avon.

      I’m an only child Teresa. My Mum lives in Vancouver – about 3.000 miles from here in the west coast of Canada. My Dad passed away about 8 years ago – he was a good man. I do have one cousin – co-incidentally called Teresa – that I see occassionally here in Ottawa. Other than that, no family in the area.

      I see that you and Willow are visiting this week. Do you have very far to travel to visit? Sounds like you guys will have a great time. Maybe you’ll get to see her Grandbaby. You’ll have to let us know what the real garden looks like.

      Thanks for dropping by and I hope you come again.


  9. Lisa
    Aug 10, 2014 @ 20:06:39

    I’m do glad you were able to get Healthcare Paul. I am still unable to get covered. The state I live in (Alabama in America) turned down the affordable care act. They said we (as a state) couldn’t afford it. I was so disappointed. However, my recent hospital bill was $240,000 and I laughed when I opened it. I thought this is what my life was worth. (Just the hospital bill mind you… not the specialists). Then this month I opened it and it was $4,000. I don’t know who, but someone paid it. That’s my coffee story for this week. 🙂


    • willowdot21
      Aug 10, 2014 @ 20:10:54

      That is amazing someone paid it woo that is really good. 😀 ❤


    • Paul
      Aug 10, 2014 @ 22:49:02

      Wow Lisa, that’s an amazing story about the hospital bill. No doubt the answer will turn up sooner or later, but it would drive me crazy trying to figure that out. We have socialized medicine here, so the program I enrolled in is for prescriptions – which can get pricey but not nearly as bad as what you are facing. A few years ago our health care system decided that they were being taken too much for granted and decided to send out invoices to patients for what their treatment would have cost had they had to pay. In a way it was funny because so many people panicked and didn’t read the accompanying letter that explained what they were doing- they just saw the invoice and thought they were being billed. There was a public uproar that was unprecidented. It wasn’t long before the practice stopped. I got a few letters and with some extrapolation I realized that my total treatment to date – for cancer and kidney failiure and all the other stuff in between , like internal bleeding, heart issues, etc -they have spent over $1 million dollars keeping me alive, so far. They tell me that the dialysis treatments alone are about $60,000 per year.

      Anyway, that’s a part of life, I guess. I am always amused by those who are healthy to date and look down their noses at those of us who have had health problems and are stuggling to cope.Somehow I get the feeling that it is perceived that we created our own problems and are personally responsible. It amuses me because sooner or later, they will discover themselves in the same position.

      Oh, Lisa, in our system, the health care (except prescriptions) is funded through taxes. All types of taxes included, we spend about 50% of our income on taxes. We have a non-governmental group that follows that and they declare one day each year when, if all we did was pay taxes, we would be free for the year. It is typically somewhere in late June or early July.

      I hope things go well for you this week. Please have another cuppa and relax Lisa. Thanks so much for droipping by and we hope to see you again.


      • willowdot21
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 04:03:30

        Thanks Paul that was very interesting. Yes Lisa do call again.

      • Lisa
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 11:56:59

        I’ve been judged for sure. You name it, I’ve been judged for it. Health problems, my tattoos, being a mom, my marriage… I’ve been called every name in the book.
        I thought the American government was evil. Damn, sending those letters is hardcore. “Don’t think we’re helping you because we like you.”

      • willowdot21
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 17:40:14

        Nothing is for free! 🙂 dark times!

      • Lisa
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 21:12:48

        Don’t I know it…

      • Paul
        Aug 11, 2014 @ 18:43:17

        Yep, Lisa, that’ pretty much how it was received. Ha! I think that it ranks right up there as one of the worst ideas the Health care system has hatched. It is difficult to be individual these days without being judged. Thanks for the reply.


  10. idiotwriter
    Aug 13, 2014 @ 08:15:14

    That health plan sounds like a nightmare right! Good on ya for following through 😀
    For me this week it has been filling in pages and pages of paperwork that we have to do when one moves house and particularly county. They DO make it hard…they say they try make it easy…but it is a never ending loop.
    Ebola – yeah – scary for those directly involved…one wonders if it WILL spread though with todays travels.
    I got choked up yesterday watching the news with children and mothers being airlifted out of war zones (I think it was Iraq) I do not watch too much as it foes just that…makes me cry. I can talk about it – but those folks faces…yeah – no I cannot talk about it. So a lot of bad stuff happening around the world. We keep on walking and fighting the good fight right?
    With some lovely lemon drizzle cake 😉 And cherry pie.
    Lovely pic of you dear.


  11. Paul
    Aug 13, 2014 @ 17:55:00

    Hi Belinda! Sit and rest your weary soul. I’ll bring a cuppa (or maybe a drop of red for your moving woes *wink, wink*) lemon drizzle cake and cherry pie coming up – they have no calories here in Willow’s garden, you know. 😀 I’m so glad you’re pushing through the moving paperwork – it’s a pain in the derriere, n’est pas? We’ve missed you in the blogosphere the ;ast week or so but we’ve all moved and know how hard and emotional upsetting it is.

    Oh lord, I know what you mean – watching the faces and sorrow and pain of the ones who are damaged, have lost loved ones along with their homes and lives and children. It is so, so hard to see. The only thing I can do from here is pray for them.

    I see in today’s news that the Americans and we Canadians have come up with some experimental drugs for Ebola. Apparently they’ve tried them on the Amercans over here in North America who are infected (from Africa) and there is a large improvement . This is good to see but there is still a long way to go. thye’ve shipped some to Africa but there is only a limited amount so far. Heartening.

    Thanks again for dropping by Belinda. We so enjoy your visits and may your moving chores be done soon.

    Oh, thanks for the compilment on the pic. 😀


  12. Blog Woman!!!
    Aug 14, 2014 @ 14:39:07

    Quite the topic range this week, you two! Whew! 🙂
    I’m so glad you got your assistance, Paul. Like most, I gave up on jumping through the hurdles and became a part-time contract worker to feed my boy and me. Luckily my medical needs don’t require as much attention as yours do, so we manage not too badly.
    Willow…. tomatoes, babies, I don’t know which ones I love to smell most. LOL. I adore that amazing aroma off of the tomato greens, I could almost wear it as a perfume. Of course, the smell of those beautiful, little love bundles…Sigh. Lemon Drizzle Cake? Carrot Cake? Yes, please.
    Well, time for chores in these here parts. Enjoy the rest of your week, guys.


    • Paul
      Aug 15, 2014 @ 07:10:14

      Hey Robyn! Sit your weary soul down and have a cuppa here in the garden. Whatever you would like: tea, coffee, cappucino, the choice is yours. You can have Lemon Drizzle cake and Carrot cake too. Lots to go around. Refills too.And calorie free only here in Willow’s garden. 😀
      Yep, we got into a cross-section of topics this week. I hope you and your young person are doing well. It can be hard out there tjhese days but you guys have each other.. I’ll be OK, or at least it looks that way. I just have to change gears and get started in another direction. Not an easy task. But certainly doable.
      Another cuppa? Piece of cake? Thanks so much for dropping by – Willow and I are honored by your visit. Please come again.


    • willowdot21
      Aug 15, 2014 @ 13:30:06

      Hi Robyn welcome any friend of Paul’s is hopefully a friend of mine. I think I had touched so much political and heavy last week so i decided to be a little more frivolous this week. Apparently Paul took up the mantle God Bless him. I am like you torn between the fabulous smell of babies and fresh tomato plants. I think babies win. 😉 have you children. Right like you I must get on. I look forward to you visiting this Sunday. Be well and be happy. Xxxx


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