Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Get Ready for Obamacare!

Although many provisions of the Affordable Care Act have been implemented since it became law in 2010, the full implementation of  "Obamacare" will take place January 1, 2014.  There is a one year delay on the requirement that  large employers  (companies with over 50 employees) provide health care  insurance for their employees, but the most significant change is that each U.S. citizen must be covered by insurance with minimum essential coverage or face a fee . This fee is paid on the 2014 federal tax form, plus the uninsured person is liable 100% for any medical care they receive while they remain uninsured.

Most people will get health care insurance from their employer or government programs like Medicaid, Medicare, TriCare, etc. It's estimated that about 10% of the U.S. population doesn't have a government or employer sponsored insurance plan and must buy their own insurance. These people may utilize the Health Insurance Marketplace of their state beginning next week (October 1, 2013). Most people are eligible to use the Health Insurance Marketplace but are not required to use the Marketplace to obtain insurance. However, if they do not get their insurance through their state exchange, they will not be eligible for possible reduced rates based on their income level (400% or less of the federal poverty income guidelines). The exchange can be utilized on-line, by mail or in-person utilizing a broker or Navigator (person trained to assist you on the State Health Insurance Marketplace).

The Health Insurance Marketplace for your state will have been set up by your state or may be set up by the federal government where state legislators and governors have refused to implement the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace initiatives. There will be four price levels of  insurance called Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum with Bronze covering 60% of costs, Silver covering 70% of costs, Gold covering 80% of costs, and Platinum covering 90% of costs. The Benchmark level is the Silver Plan and this is the only plan which may provide advance premium tax credits to lower your monthly premium based on your family income level. If you qualify for the advance premium tax credits based on your family income, the cost saving for out-of-pocket costs will make it the equivalent of a Gold or Platinum Plan that cost more but have fewer out-of-pocket costs.

There is also a provision in the Affordable Care Act for citizens under the age of 30 to obtain very inexpensive Catastrophic Medical InsurancePeople 30 and over with low incomes for whom other insurance is not considered affordable or who have received a hardship exemption from the fee may be able to buy these catastrophic plans in the Marketplace.

I'm one of those people who doesn't have employer-provided insurance and since I am only 62 years old, I am not eligible for Medicare for another 3 years.  Since losing my employer-based insurance in 2006, I've had to buy insurance on my own.  I was denied insurance three times because of  "pre-existing  conditions" and had to obtain insurance from a state-based insurance plan for people like me.  I will be going on the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange October 1st to see what other options I will have starting January 1, 2014.  On that date, insurance companies can no longer require that I pay a higher premium because of pre-existing conditions or because I am a woman. 

You can use the Health Care Cost Estimator now to get an idea of what the Benchmark insurance plan will cost you in your state based on your family size, 2014 income, number of dependents and age.

There's been a lot of over-the-top rhetoric and lies about Obamacare, so I suggest you look at the Healthcare website that explains all the benefits and changes in plain language.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumnal Equinox

One of the fantastic animated fall images from: The Huffington Post The First Day of Fall of 2013.

Today is the first day of fall and I am loving it.

We experienced a huge harvest moon September 18th.

I love living where we have four distinct seasons.  I think fall is my favorite time here in New Mexico. As the days and nights are cooling off, we get fantastic blue skies and beautiful white clouds.

Sunflowers in the Manzanita Mountains

Soon my Cottonwood will turn golden (picture from last fall)
The wildflowers are producing their last blooms and fruits.
Copper Globemallow Sphaeralcea angustifolia 

Cornflower/Batchelor Button

Cornflower/Batchelor Button

Indian Blanket/Firewheel Gaillardia pinnatifid

White Honeysuckle Lonicera albiflora fruit

Hartweg's Sundrops Calyphus hartwegii

Yellow Columbine Aquilegia micrantha

Bahia Bahia dissecta

Purple Aster Machaeraanthera bigelovii
 And then there are the caterpillars...everywhere...seemingly consuming everything!
Devouring scrub oak leaves

Not sure what kind of caterpillar this you?

Could it be an Io Moth caterpillar in a later instar?
 If you know what caterpillar/moth this is, let me know.

Tuck it In For Winter

Trees burst forth 
in yellow hue,
 flower petals
drink in the dew.
'Tis the season
they call the "shoulder",
wedged between
hot and colder.
Look upon these flowers tender, 
get to work --  tuck it in for winter!
Happy Autumnal Equinox  to you.

And Happy September Birthday to... daughter, Mary, in Bloomfield, New Mexico.  She turns 29 years old.
Mary with her husband, Matt
...and to my sister-in-law, Ginni, in Columbus, Ohio, who turns 76 years old!
Ginni with her husband, Fred

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Late Summer Wildflowers in the Manzanita Mountains

Our last Cibola Forest Service wildflower walk took place August 31st in the Manzanita Mountains just a short drive east of Albuquerque.  Eleven people drove south from the Sandia District Ranger Station in Tijeras on NM Hwy 337 to Juan Tomas Rd. (approximately 4.7 miles) and parked near the open gate marking the start of FR 542 that goes to Cedro Peak.  There is no trail, you just walk along the road up one side for half a mile and back the other side half a mile.  There is an arroyo on the east side of the road (probably worth exploring sometime), but today we just walk on the shoulder of Juan Tomas Rd.  Watch out for traffic!

The Juan Tomas roadside in lower Sabino Canyon yields more than 100 wildflower species, most which were blooming after good monsoon rains in August. Indeed, this area of the Manzanita mountains received 6.51 inches of rain in July and August (out of a total of 6.68 inches that has fallen since January 1, 2013). Here is a list of wildflowers found in a compact one mile walk (up and back) Juan Tomas Rd. between FR 542 and FR 252.


1. Amaranth, Green/PigweedAmaranthus hybridus  – Amaranth Family

2. Alfalfa –  Medicago sativaPea Family
3. Apache PlumeFallugia paradoxaRose Family

4. Aster, BabyChaestoppa eriocoidesAster Family
5. Aster, Hairy Golden Heterotheca villosaAster Family
6. Aster, PurpleMachaeranthera canescensAster Family
7. Aster, White HeathAster falcatusAster Family

8. BahiaBahia dissectaAster Family

9. Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis Morning Glory Family

10. BirdbeakCordylanthus wrightii Snapdragon Family
11. Bitterweed/PinguëHymenoxys richardsoniiAster Family
12. Blazing StarMentzelia multifloraLoasa Family

13. Boneset, False Brickellia eupatorioides Aster Family

14. Bricklebush, Plumed – Brickellia brachyphylla Aster Family
15. Cherry, Ground Physalis hederifolia var. cardifolia Potato Family
the flower

the fruit

16  Clover, Purple PrairieDalea purpurea Pea Family
17. Clover, White PrairieDalea candida Pea Family

18. Clover, White Sweet Melilotus albus Pea Family
19. Clover, Yellow Sweet Melilotus officinalis Pea Family
20. CockleburXanthium strumariumAster Family
21. Coneflower, Prairie/Mexican Hat Ratibida columnifera Aster Family
22. Coneflower, Short-rayed Ratibida tagetesAster Family 

23. Cota / Rio Grande GreenthreadThelesperma megapotamicumAster Family

24. Curled Dock—Rumes crispus--  Polygonaceae -- Family
25. Daisy, Cowpen/Crownbeard Verbesina encelioides Aster Family

26.  Daisy, PaperPsilostrophe tagetina Aster Family

27. Daisy, Tall Easter/TownsendiaTownsendia eximaAster Family
28. Filaree Erodium cicutariumGeranium Family
29. Flax, BlueLinum lewsii Flax Family
30. Fleabane, SpreadingErigeron divergens Aster Family
31. Fleabane, Trailing – Erigeron flagellaris  Aster Family
32. Four O’Clock, Narrow-leafedMirabilis linearis Four O’Clock Family
33. Four O’Clock, Wild Mirabilis multiflora Four O’Clock Family

34. Gaillardia, Yellow Blanket Flower Gaillardia pinnatifid Aster Family
35. Gaura, ScarletGaura coccinea   – Evening Primrose Family
36. Gaura, Small-flowered Gaura parviflora Evening Primrose Family

37. GayfeatherLiatris punctataAster Family

38. Geranium, Purple Geranium caespitosumGeranium Family
39. GermanderTeucrium laciniatumMint Family

40. Gilia, Many-flowered Ipomopsis multifloraPhlox Family
41. Gilia , ScarletIpomopsis aggregataPhlox Family
42. GlobemallowSphaeralcea angustifolia.  Mallow Family

43  GlobemallowSphaeralcea coccinea  – Mallow Family
44 GlobemallowSphaeralcea hastataMallow Family
45. Golden-eye , ShowyViguiera multifloraAster Family

46. Golden rod, Few Flowered Solidago velutinaAster Family
47. Goldenweed, Slender /Annual Machaeranthera gracilisAster Family
48. Goosefoot, Narrow- leaved Chenopodium leptophyllumGoosefoot Family
49.  Gourd, Buffalo Cucurbita foetidissimaGourd Family
50. Gromwell, Wayside/Puccoon Lithospermum multiflorumBorage Family
51.  Groundsel, Threadleaf Senecio flaccidus   – Aster Family
52.  Gumweed, Curly-topGrindelia nuda Aster Family
53.  HoarhoundMarrubium vulgareMint Family
54.  HorsetailEquisetum arvenseHorsetail Family
55.  HorseweedConyza canadensisAster Family
56.  Knotweed, Erect  – Polygonum erectumBuckwheat Family
57.  Knotweed, ProstratePolygonum aviculareBuckwheat Family
58. Lettuce, PricklyLactuca serriolaAster Family
58. Licorice, Wild Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pea Family

60. Marigold, Fetid Dyssodia papposa Aster Family

61. Menodora, RoughMenodora scabraOlive Family

62.  Milkweed, PoisonAsclepias subverticillata Milkweed Family
63. MilkwortPolygala albaMilkwort Family
64. Morning Glory, Crest-rib  –Ipomoea costellata Morning Glory Family

65. Morning Glory, Scarlet Ipomoea cristulataMorning Glory Family
66. Morning Glory, Wild Ipomoea purpuraMorning Glory Family
67.  Mullein, Woolly Verbascum thapsisFigwort Family
68. Mustard,Purple Schoenocrambe linearfoliaMustard Family
69. Nightshade, PurpleSolanum elaeagnifoliumPotato Family
70. NoseburnTragia ramose Euphorbia Family
71. Onion, Geyer’sAllium geyeriLily Family
72. Paintbrush, FoothillsCastilleja integra Snapdragon Family
73. Pennyroyal, FalseHedeoma nanaMint Family
74.Penstemon, Red Penstemon barbatus Snapdragon Family
75. PeppergrassLepidium montanum Mustard Family

76.  Perky SueTetraneuris argenta Aster Family

77. Phlox, Santa FePhlox nana Phlox Family
78. Poinsettia, ToothedEuphorbia dentateEuphorbia Family

79. Potato, Wild Solanum jamesii Potato Family
80. Ragweed SagebrushArtemesia franseriodes Aster Family
81. Ragweed, WesternAmbrosia psilostachya Aster Family
82. Sage, Fringed Artemisia frigida Aster Family
83. Sage, Rocky MountainSalvia reflexa Mint Family

84. Salisfy Tragopogon pratensisAster Family
85. Saltbush, Four-winged Atriplex canescens Goosefoot Family
86. Sanvitalia Sanvitalia abertiiAster Family

87. Spurge Chamaescyce serpyllifolia Euphorbia Family

88. Snakeweed Gutierrezia sarothraeAster Family

89. Sundrops, Hartweg’sCalyphus hartwegii Evening Primrose Family
90. Sunflower, AnnualHelianthus annus Aster Family
91. Sunflower, PrairieHelianthus petiolaris Aster Family
92. Sweetpea, Wild Lathyrus eucosmusPea Family

93. TarragonArtemisia biennis Aster Family
94. Tea, Navajo/IndianThelesperma filifoliumAster Family
95. Thornapple, Oak-leafed – Datura quercifoliaPotato Family
96. VervainGlandularia bipinnatifidaVerbena Family

97. Verbena, Spike Verbena macdougaliiVerbena Family
98. Vipergrass Scorzonera laciniata Aster Family
99.  Wallflower, Western Erysimum capitatumMustard Family
101. White Ragweed Parthenium hysterophorus Aster Family
102. Winged Wild Buckwheat-- Erigonum alatum  Buckwheat Family
Some others you may see:
New Mexico Thistle
Purslane spp
Violet Wood Sorre
Wild Mint
Wild Rose
Yellow Flax

The day was glorious as clouds rose to threaten rain. Normally this walk in late August is hot with little shade.  But today, the temperature was in the low 80's.

The sunflowers were stunning as they lined the road. The arroyo is behind these flowers.