Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just Good People!

The past eleven days of my life have been very sad, very upsetting and thus, to whatever entity is in charge of handling my day-to-day experiences, please do not deliver any reruns of this time in my life. You see, I've been to three funerals in the last eleven days. Two were expected but that still doesn't lessen the loss factor any, does it? First, there was a cousin of mine who had dealt with COPD (or maybe it was emphysema, I'm not sure which exactly, just know it was a very bad lung issue)for the past fifteen years with the last 18 months of having hospice care present. The third was for a lady who, along with her husband and family, had been good friends for well over thirty years. She had just this past spring been diagnosed with cancer that I was told began in her lungs but unfortunately, rapidly moved to other organs in her body. She and her husband had both been the kind of people who saw all things in the most positive manner possible and with as much humor as could be mustered up too. Their children -all five -grew up to be outstanding individuals and well, "just plain great kids." Their oldest son has a place of honor in my older daughter's mind though as she has said for many years now that he was the very best babysitter ever to stay with her and her brother when they were younguns! And, yes I think I'd have to agree with her description of him in that manner because he was a very good sitter, great at entertaining both my daughter and my son back then. My memory is a bit faulty right now as I can't remember exactly how many of those kids babysat for me -I know the oldest boy did, as well as the oldest girl but not sure if either of the two younger girls ever babysat for me. I know the youngest of the family -a son -didn't because he wasn't all that much older than my son was back then. And the other funeral -which actually was the second one in this line -was one for the oldest son of one of my neighbors here in town and his passing was a total shock to everyone! Only 48-years-old and his mother found him in his house, in bed and dead of a heart attack. Totally shocked the entire community and I find myself still in a bit of a state of shock over his passing. He was a year older than my older daughter -the eldest of five siblings. A very hard worker he was too having started early in life -probably by the beginning of his teens, maybe a little before that even, as the local paperboy, delivering the local daily newspaper as well as weekly copies of the GRIT. During his high school years, he started spending much of his free time during the warmer months mowing lawns for various people around here. After graduation, he got a job working at a local service station just off Interstate 80 here and worked there until not too many years ago -less than 10 years though I think since he left that job and got hired on the Janitorial staff at our local school system. All the while he worked full time he also built up his network of people whose lawns were mowed by him as well as maintaining the grass at the local Catholic Cemetery (which is fairly large) and also, a cemetery by a church about 5-6 miles from here that was a little bit, but not that much, smaller. If you were to talk to anyone who belongs to either of those churches though, you'd hear nothing but compliments on the work he performed in both places. Some other things you'd most likely hear about any of these three individuals would be that each of them would be considered to have been "just good people!" Most certainly that I agree with wholeheartedly. My cousin, the lady friend and the younger man -all three of them were alike too in that whenever you saw any of them, they always had a smile for you and good words to share. All three of them would do anything they could for you if they knew you had a need for help of some kind. Generous, giving people they were. The younger fellow had been a member of our volunteer Fire Company since he was old enough to join so over 30 years of service and commitment he gave to the Fire Company and the community. He also had a very strong sense of humor much of the time too and that was totally evident the Sunday back in May of 1994 when my daughters and their boyfriends had the great idea to tear down the old garage in the backyard here. Their game plan was to tear it apart and then, using the wheel barrow they wheeled the wood across the backyard to the back lot adjacent to this one and then, they were burning the old wood, bit by bit. Sounded like a decent enough plan to them and to me. But a little backstory is needed here now as I have to explain that 3 years earlier my son had managed to catch our house on fire and as a result, the second story interior was very damaged but thankfully, it didn't reach into the attic nor was the roof damaged at all either. But on the day of the demolishing of the garage, there came a point in which the only part of the garage still standing was a section that was completely locked together, creating a block of timber that would have taken another full day to rip apart so I told the kids to just pull that down into the lower part of our back yard, which was at that time a virtual swampland, and burn it there. That then is what they did and it seemed to be going okay until the wind picked up a bit of speed, sending sparks flying into the air like crazy and it looked like they were all heading for the branches of some very large oak trees down there. Enough so that it scared my daughter and she came running up to the house yelling for me to call the fire company. Okay -I called the fire company and we were standing in the backyard when the guys came trouping down to greet us with this young man leading the pack. As he came up to me he came out with this comment to me, "So, Mrs. Ertmer, you are now a frequent flyer with the Grassflat Fire Company!" And he frequently would tease me too about that fire at my place. Considering that and how he did love to tease and joke with people whenever possible, you can now also understand why, when my little old jeep caught fire while I was driving it about 28 months ago and the fire company had to be called out for that too. My biggest worry while waiting for them to arrive on the scene was that he not be responding to the call because I knew, if he was on the truck, I would never live down the harassment he would dole out to me! Thankfully, he wasn't on the truck though and I said to one of the firemen present I was so glad to see he wasn't there. That guy asked me why I didn't want him to be on the call and if I didn't like the guy and I replied that it wasn't that at all but just that he would have had a field day poking fun at me over the whole scene. All in good humor I know it would have been but in a small town like this, well, you can understand I really didn't need any fodder to give him for sure! But my kids and I as well as this young man and his youngest brother, who is one of my son's closest friends, still have had a lot of laughs shared over both of those fires! And as a tribute to each of these three individuals, the churches from which each funeral was held were each packed for the respective funeral service. To me, seeing that many people show up to pay their respects for the deceased and to the family members speaks legions of what type of person each one was! "Just Good People!" Yes, indeed, that is exactly what each one was and they will most certainly be missed not just by their families but by the entire area here. Rest in peace, Jackie, Ricky and Donna! You will not be forgotten for your works over the years you shared yourself and your talents within this community.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Push Is On!

Well, a year has passed now since Mandy and the kids moved to Middletown and needless to say, it was a year of some very rude adjustments to my life! To say that I missed the kids -a major understatement there, for sure!

 For a while, I really felt totally lost without them being here every day. I didn't miss the daily fights that tended to erupt between the two of them for the most part, but yet -sometimes it was so quiet here, I probably would have welcomed that just for the company it meant was present in the house then.

 But I really was very much looking forward to the summer months and being able to have the kids here -either one at a time or even both of 'em together for a couple of weeks in a row. Things worked out -not quite the way we had initially figured but as best that could be done anyway.

In June, originally the plan was that I was to have both kids here together for two weeks but that got switched to only having them here together for one week and having Kurtis for alone for what was supposed to be the second week for both of them.

That got changed because Maya had to go home to be there over one weekend so she could attend a dance recital for Mandy's boyfriend's daughter, Cassidy. So, my older daughter took her to Middletown and brought her back up here and then, Mandy came up that weekend to take her home as she had to get ready to go to Bible Camp at some camp up in the Poconos some where. She and Cassidy were going to go to that together and would be there a full week!

 So Kurtis then was going to spend yet another week alone here with me but that got scotched when it turned out he to go home earlier than planned because he had to have an evaluation with the BSC in order to have all the paperwork completed so he could attend some special 5-week long program from the end of June through the end of July! I tried to convince Mandy to tell the BSC if he wanted to evaluate Kurt to come up here and do it and look at the big payoff he would get collecting on travel expenses for that but she decided that idea just wouldn't wash so back home Kurt went.

Then, I did get Maya for two weeks -last week and this week and this Sunday when they go home with their Mom, they will be back for one week -the first full week in August -but at least that means they will both be able to go to Bible School at our church here then anyway!

 One thing I don't miss though with the kids is how in school there usually comes a time when the music department does special tests on the kids to ascertain if any of them have any amount of musical talent laying dormant, waiting for the music department to convince the parents to invest in some kind of musical instrument and start the kid on the road to ensuring parents and grandparent do have a very good set of headphone to ward of ear damage from listening to the initial phases of learning to play an instrument. When my kids were in school and those days came along, it seemed every announcement they brought home as to purchasing an instrument of some type or other all came with a banner headline too announcing buy now

Almost as if one didn't purchase then, the instruments would never ever be available to anyone, ever again!

Unfortunately for my three kids, there was no way at all I could squeeze in another payment for anything much less a musical instrument though so I never took advantage of those sales. But it reminded me of when I was a kid and those tests were given then, I was deemed to have some degree of musical ability but fortunately for me, we already had a piano and an uncle of mine had an old violin he loaned me too. When about two years later the music teacher (and band director) insisted I learn how to play a French Horn so I could then qualify to be in the marching band) he, the teacher, found an old used -very used, I might add -French Horn for me to use to learn on! I'll save the story of what a debacle it was when he insisted I was ready to move on to the marching band for another day! LOL 

 So any way, Mandy's been getting some of these banners and bribes and such to purchase musical instruments for one, if not both kids, but she's in the same bind that I was, financially, plus we've already seen that Maya's interests in playing an instrument has taken an extreme backseat to her getting Mandy to allow her to take dance lessons!

At least that, she likes well enough that she practices -day in and day out! So that wasn't a wasted investment then after all, was it?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lost - Cats and Children!

I've thought so many times in the past several weeks now (almost 8 weeks) that I really should put something out here on the olde blog but yet, just never seemed to find the time (or ambition, as it were) to do it.

It's not that I'm busy working and working and more working constantly, although I have been relatively busy trying to keep motivated with the Avon along with working pretty diligently on an embroidery project of great importance too. The Avon fluctuates a good bit -one campaign fairly decent and the next one, really a flop is how it seems to be going. A bit depressing in that respect but then, I really don't have all that many customers who are active buyers -meaning that they order a good-sized order each campaign. And, I can definitely understand that because if I weren't selling the stuff, I am pretty sure I'd be doing a lot more selectivity in my ordering too!

The embroidery project though -well, I didn't get it finished in time to present it to the young lady friend who because a bride this past weekend but I did note in my card to her and her groom that I am hoping to have their gift from me completed in the next two weeks. Very hopeful I am that I will get it done that quickly! It's a full-sized tablecloth -52 inches by 68 inches with a floral design in each corner as well as a floral design along each side too. In my opinion, it is a very pretty floral pattern -not showy, just rather simplistic, with a single rose in each display with three violets along side of the flower.

I've done other tablecloths this size -as well as a few that were even a bit larger than this one but this one -perhaps because I want it to end up as nice as I can possibly do it since it is intended as a wedding gift -it has been a bit slow stitching it. Either that or my eyes and fingers are just not working up to top speed these days!

I had the grandkids here for almost a full week with both of them but the week's visit for Maya got broken up a bit due to a dance recital down in Middletown (where the kids and my daughter now reside) that Maya wanted to attend. So my older daughter came up the day before the recital and took Maya down to her house for the night and then, she and Maya went down to Middletown the next day so they could both attend the recital after which, Carrie brought Maya back up here to spend the last two days here with me.  I was, initially, supposed to have Kurtis here with Maya that week and then, the next two weeks, have Kurtis here by himself with me. But that got screwed up because he had to return home in the middle of that first week of being here alone to have an evaluation with some therapist for a 4-5 week special summer program he is going to attend in July. But, then we got back on track with the visiting as Mandy and Jeff (her boyfirend) had to take Maya and Jeff's daughter, Cassidy, up to a Bible camp in or near the Poconos this past Sunday where the girls will spend this week. So Sunday afternoon, after depositing the girls at their camp site, they came across Interstate 80 and to this area and left Kurtis here now with me this week! Next week, I was supposed to have Maya here, alone, all week, but that ended up getting screwed up too because of a photo session that got rescheduled until next Tuesday and so, Gram's time with the girl got lost in the mix of that then too!

Bummer, ya know!

Today, was quite the day though -full of a few little "thrills" of a sort, I guess you could say.

It all started when I got up this morning and realized my cat -Miss Pearl the Purrball -was missing! Now how the heck did that happen as she is totally an indoor cat, but I soon discovered that she had become very adventurous and had escaped through a window in my bedroom that was open but which I thought had a screen in it and it turned out, the screen was somehow or other missing too! So, I was more than a bit upset over the missing cat.

Then, a little later in the morning, it seems I was also missing my grandson too! Sheesh -all I could think about then was how upset Mandy was going to be to learn not only had I screwed things up and aided and abetted her cat's escape into the wild blue yonder or green grass and woods but I had also somehow managed to lose her son too in the big (very little) burg here where I live!

As it turned out, what happened with Kurtis is as I was checking my facebook and having my wake-up coffee, he had gone outside -which is fairly normal for him to do that -and I just figured he was out in the yard playing, probably digging big holes for Gram to trip in as she mows the grass eventually. 

So anyway, because I was to go to lunch today with the girlfriends from my high school class -our monthly lunch outing -and Kurtis was going to be going with me, I wanted to take a quick shower. While he was out in the yard, I decided was a good time to get the shower and hurry up and get dressed then so I would only have to make sure his face and hands (and legs too) were clean along with his clothes and we'd both be ready to go to lunch.

Well, when I went out to call him into the house to get ready, imagine my surprise when I got no response from him! I walked around the house, looking in every possible hiding place known to a small child and no Kurtis!

Now where the heck could he have gone!

Since I also had to walk the dog before leaving, I figured okay, I'd take him for our normal walk down the road and look for Kurtis along that way in the process. As I got the dog and out up on the road in front of the house, I looked up the street and lo and behold, what do I see but Kurtis, up by the curve about 4-5 houses from my place, strolling ever so casually towards my house! When he saw me and Sammy standing out on the road he began to run towards me and then I was worrying as I was thinking to my self -"Please don't trip and fall flat on your face and skin it and your arms and legs all up!" But thankfully, he managed to run fairly gracefully -no tripping,no falling -no injuries and he arrived by my side all happy and excited as he exclaimed to me how he had decided to go on his own version of a search and destroy mission, looking for Pearl, the cat!

Sweet intentions on his part, yes indeed. But just about scared the living daylights out of me that he had decided all on his own, without saying a word ot me about this plan of his, ya know!

Although he had no luck in locating the cat, the fact that he had done this on his own and had safely got himself back home then too was good to see.

So off we went to lunch then with Kate, Rose and Jean -three of my old friends from high school. I did ask Kurtis before we went into the restaurant though if possible, could he please not talk constantly about nuclear accidents and nuclear reactors -which are all a huge part of his mind these days as he has been obsessing about Three Mile Island and any thing else he can find online about nuclear power plants and reactors and such! It's amazing to hear him go on and on about this subject -yes, it is but at the same time, after 2-3 months of this being his constant topic of conversation, it does tend to get a little less exciting to hear about it over and over and OVER AGAIN at times, you see!

He obliged me at lunch and was relatively well-behaved and quite sociable with my girlfriends too. He knows Kate quite well as she just lives two doors down the street from us and he knows Rose and her husband too because the kids have been to their house on several occasions with me. (He loves to go to their house because Rose's husband, Durv, has a room with all kinds of wild animals stuffed and on display on the walls and sitting around his "Den!" Kurtis is almost as fascinated with that room as is my older grandson, Alex -who is totally in awe of the collection Durv has there. But, that's because Alex is very interested in hunting -which obviously, so is Durv!

So we got back home and Kurtis wanted to play on the computer then -searching youtube videos about, you guessed it -nuclear reactors and such! Then, before we knew it the time had come for him to get ready to go up to a local church that is sponsoring evening Bible School all this week for the kids in the area. Maya and Kurtis had attended this Bible school last year and they loved it so Kurt jumped on board when I asked him if he would like to attend it again this year! Made me feel very good that he was so happy and excited about attending this and that he really does enjoy being around so many kid from around the area there and learning Bible verses and new songs too.

After I took him up there and dropped him off, I came back to the house and tried again to look around the front yard and back yard for the cat. No response at that time though. So I came inside and while out in the kitchen, decided to try one more time to call for the cat via the back door.

And much to my happy surprise, I heard a noise on the deck, opened the door and there stood Pearl, a bit wet and slightly bedraggled from having been caught outdoors in one or more of the showers we had off and on this afternoon, but other than that, none the worse for wear!

So, my motto tonight definitely is "All's well that ends well!" as I am quite contented having the cat back where she belongs and not having really "lost" Kurtis today -just that he sort of misplaced himself for a while!

Tomorrow's exciting day though isn't going to probably sit all that well with him as it's going to involved the really exciting chore of delivering Avon orders! And to that I say -into each life a bit of rain must fall!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Proof Positive!

Because today I am planning on having a very "lazy" day, I decided perhaps it would be a good idea if I took a little time and posted something here on my blog!

And boy, I'm really glad I did that because I got a big surprise when I opened to my blog!

Not quite like having my Reader back, but now, Blogger has a running listing of posts to some of my favorite bloggers that I have missed not being able to keep up with since they did away with the Reader. Don't know who or what inspired the powers that be to do this but I was very happy to see I can still reconnect with several of my old favorite bloggers once again!

This is going to be just a little bit of a "catch-up" on what I've been doing here for the past two weeks or so -nothing of drastic importance going on, that's for sure, so it may be more than a tad boring.

Mandy and the grandchildren came up for Easter, which made for a very nice weekend that way! Having her here Sunday morning meant there was someone who would wake my lazy butt up in time to get ready and get out the door in time to go to church and that was very nice. The kids were both very well-behaved during the service with one small exception. Midway in the service, Mandy poked me to direct my attention to Kurtis, who was sitting on her left side. I glanced over and there he was, leaning down and in a very active (abeit a stage whisper type) conversation with our next-door neighbor, Gail, who was sitting to his left. Just watching him converse with her and how animated he was, I knew immediately what he was doing, what he was telling her!

He was giving her his standard run down on all the information he could recall that he has acquired now about either Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the nuclear disasters that took place at those places! It is really amazing to hear an eight-year-old spout off all kinds of data about those incidents although, at times, Mandy says she almost wishes he would return to obsessing about lego blocks or even the Twin Towers to give her a little break from nuclear reactors and disasters, etc.

But one thing for sure -his interest in this topic and the way he can remember so much of what he has been reading about it sure does show us how well he is learning more and more every day, doesn't it?

To keep myself occupied and steer clear of certain potentials that could cause me to get a bit depressed, I've been trying to get myself in gear and return to doing the embroidery work. As a result of that, I have finished a very pretty set of pillow cases -pansies design on them -and was quite pleased with the way they turned out. Because I have one large storage tote that is completely filled to the brim with embroidery kits of various types waiting for me to decide to work on one of them (plus a box I keep by my recliner with about 8-10 other kits there, that I plan to get done sometime this year), I decided to tackle a kit I have had for probably 4-5 years now. This is for a fullsize tablecloth -52 inches by 70 inches which I think will just fit on my dining room table. The design on it consists of a medium-sized rose in bloom surrounded by a couple little violets in each corner, as well as a repeat of the bouquet in the center of the cloth and along each side too. I had hesitated beginning this kit as for whatever reason I had in my mind, it struck me as being rather complicated to work. However, since I have been working on it now and have one corner bouquet completed, it's actually a relatively simple exercise in bits of satin stitches, french knots and the good old stem stitch with only a few places requiring the lazy daisy stitch. Because of the size though, it is going to be a fairly time-consuming project now but at least I'm enjoying watching the piece come to life as I get more and more of the flowers completed on it.

I've been debating today about perhaps mixing up a batch of the Swedish Rye bread and then, provided it turns out nice enough, taking a loaf or two and delivering it to a couple of my friends and Avon customers too. Before Easter, I made a batch of whole wheat bread along with 4 dozen sweet rolls and then too, a batch of the Swedish Rye so that Mandy had some of each type to take home with her. Two of those loaves -one rye and one whole wheat -were for Kurtis to have to take to school with him after Easter break for his class activity as the kids were learning little things about cultures and ethnicity and Mandy thought it would be neat for him to take the homemade bread to class and tell his classmates that this is something that is a part of my ancestral culture -home-baked bread, and the rye bread being from a recipe that my cousins and I believe probably was passed down through the generations from my great-grandmother! Mandy said the kids enjoyed that in Kurt's class so that was good to hear!

And now, as I decide what I'm going to do here today -other than spending the bulk of it working on this tablecloth, I'll close this now with something I haven't posted here in ages!

A picture of Maya and Kurtis in their "Sunday-Go-Meeting" clothes -a little extra special for Easter Sunday, you know. (Maya is going on eleven now and stands almost up to my chin and Kurtis just turned eight on Palm Sunday. He's growing so tall now too -like the proverbial bad weeds, ya know!)

Happy May and may it bring lots of sunshine, warmth and plenty of flowers!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Walking with Sam and Jeni....

Boy, the best laid intentions of mice and men really do go awry way too quickly in my life.

I had been planning to try to reactivate my brain a bit and come back to some regular blogging but every time I think I'm going to do that, something seems to come up that takes my attention elsewhere.

Like today, for example -when I saw something while walking Sam on the first of our daily walks and today, I was able to recruit my neighbor into helping to take care of what I had noticed along our walk down the road for at least the past three days.

In the run-off ditch in the front of a neighbor's house, down the street from my place, I noticed two smallish piles of leaves there -looking sort of like they had been raked there but no evidence elsewhere that any raking had been done recently in their yard. But it wasn't the leaves themselves that caught my eye, but rather what looked a bit strange from the road looking at the leaf pile. I thought I saw something else there and upon looking a bit closer -without alerting Sam to start sniffing around -I realized there was a dead cat laying half covered by the leaf pile!

It kind of looked like one of the cats that had belonged to another neighbor's daughter but not quite like that cat in that this one was a bit on the scruffy side. At first, I thought if might be a stray that has been wandering around this road for the past 2-3 years at least now -since it was abandoned by the family that had it prior to their moving away from here. That cat, which my daughter and the neighbor next door nicknamed "Scruffums" though is all gray, with a very fluffy coat -when he's sort of cleaned up. He goes to several homes along the street where neighbors there often put food out for him and I just saw him a couple days ago, reposing under a vehicle at the end of the row of houses on this road so I know he was still on the loose.

But today, as Sam and I were coming back towards the house, the neighbor across the street from where this cat is located in the leaf pile, happened to come home and pulled his pickup down his drive and I walked down the alley then to talk to him and pointed out the dead cat to him. He thinks perhaps this cat may have been hit by a car or other type vehicle, possibly back during the very snowy times we had here and then, got buried by the snow plows and ended up that way partially covered by the leaves but now visible since the snow has melted off now. (Snow, which by the way, is being predicted for us later today -in mid-April! Makes me wonder if this really is going to be the winter that has no end, EVER!)

But anyway, the end of the dead cat story is that the neighbor I showed the cat to said he would get a garbage bag and scoop up the remains and leaves and get rid of it before it really starts to decay. Not the best ending for a cat story, I know, but the best that can come out of it, I guess.

Moving on to a little other stuff in my life, last week and the week prior to that were more than a bit wacky for me. First off, on Monday, March 31st, my neighbor and good friend for all my life, phoned to ask me if I was planning to attend our monthly meeting the next night of our church women's group. To show how strangely my brain was acting then, my initial response to her question was "What? Already?"

She sort of chided me then as she reminded me that the next day, Tuesday, was April 1st and also, the first Tuesday of the month, which is when our woman's group normally meets! Hmmm. How the heck did that day, and date, roll around so quickly and why was my mind thinking that there was another week yet before our meeting as well as before my next Social Security check would arrive? I remembered I had two appointments scheduled -on for April 3rd and the other, for April 4th -both of which would require me to be sure to have a full tank of gas in my car and due to my rather confused frame of mind, I had been worrying about if I would have enough money in my checking account to be able to fill the tank to make both of those appointments. Also, my friend's little tapping into my wonderland trip, mentally, caused me to then remember that March 31st was my friend's older sister's birthday and then too, April 1st was that lady's husband's birthday too. Two events that I normally would have purchased birthday cards for each of them and hand delivered them to them by the 31st but here it was that date already and me with no cards for either of my good friends! Talk about stuff that was upsetting my mental apple cart, big time, that was doing it for me with just that one phone call that evening.

So the next day, I had to hurry and find two appropriate cards for the birthday couple and drop them off to them. I also hurried up that Tuesday to bake and ice a cake then to take to our group's meeting that night so we could all have a piece of birthday cake to celebrate her birthday a day late but, hey, what the heck. Better late than never, right?

And, as we went into the little restaurant near here where we were having our meeting that evening, there were five of us walking across the parking lot together when it dawned on me that my good friend's sister, the "birthday girl" was not with her and I commented to her that she apparently forgot someone along the way. She looked around and then said "Oh, you mean my sister? Well, she's not coming tonight because their oldest son was taking her and her husband out to a special birthday dinner that evening." Then she realized too that I was carrying a cake and she figured out I had made a cake then for her sister and her husband's birthdays. We laughed about how I had the cake but no true recipient of it being with us but we all had a slice of cake after our meeting and on my way home, I stopped and delivered cake to her sister and her husband -again, a little bit late but there, all the same!

That Friday then -the 4th of April -I had an appointment down outside of Pittsburgh with the surgeon who has been keeping tabs on me since my last surgery 4 years ago this summer. There had been some questions about a potential issue that had surfaced on the PET scan I had last August and this doctor had me have another PET scan back in November as well as one the week prior to my appointment so he could verify if there had been any changes in the spots that had shown up on the last August scan. Thankfully, the last PET scan revealed no growth, no changes so now, I don't have to go back down there until the fall for just a checkup and next spring, will have to have yet another PET scan to keep track of things. The doctor's office is in Mars, PA and because my older daughter, who normally is the one of my kids who has become my regular transporter to the Pittsburgh area, was unable to get off work that day so it ended up I was going to have to drive myself to Pittsburgh. And that, was a big deal in my life as it would mark over 11 years that had gone by since I had driven that far alone! I have a tendency if I am by myself and driving that anything over 50-60 miles often causes me to sort of zone out and want to go to sleep -not a really good thing to have happening when you are behind the wheel, ya know. So to try to be able to keep myself alert, I had an older gentleman who is a good friend of mine and my kids, ride along with me. Someone to talk to and also, who smokes too so I didn't have to worry about offending any of my non-smoking friends on a trip like that! And, having him riding shotgun with me proved to work quite well as we talked, laughed and yes, filled the car with cigarette aroma too but I had no problems that way then of felling like I was going to fall asleep and that was what I had hoped would take place. So it was successful in that aspect then, wasn't it?

This past Sunday was the first that I wasn't present to help celebrate the birthday of my younger grandson though. Kurtis had his little party down in Middletown this year with his sister, Mom, her boyfriend, his two girls and his parents too and I was here as there's no way I could have managed a run down there, never having been to their house before and try to find my way down and back in one day's time frame. But Mandy said she had baked him a cake and he wanted her to decorate it somehow with three steam stacks on it because his current obsession is talking and learning anything and everything he can about Three-Mile Island and the steam stacks that are within sight of where they live of that nuclear power plant that had the first big major emergency back in the late 70s with a nuclear meltdown. When Mandy and the kids had been up here the week before, the first thing Kurtis said upon entering the house was to ask me if I knew about Three-Mile Island and what happened there.

This child absolutely amazes me! I know I've said that before on numerous occasions but it is the absolute truth about him and also, his sister, Miss Maya. Both of them do some really awesome things for children in their respective age ranges and never ceases to amaze me where their interests are and how well they can learn many things about those things too! Both kids are advancing in school quite well these days -which is a big relief not just to their Mom but also to me as we were both very concerned how things would go for the kids when they left here and moved to the Harrisburg area.

Now, this coming weekend is Easter and I'm very happy that Mandy and the kids will be coming up here to celebrate this with me. Hopefully, all will go well and maybe the other two kids -Carrie and her son, Alex and my son, Clate and his girlfriend, will all be able to be here Sunday afternoon and we can have an Easter dinner together as a family along with a little bit of a belated celebration of daughter Carrie's birthday and Kurt's then at that time too.

 And now, time for me to get myself organized to start doing Avon deliveries this week and hopefully get enough orders to make a little profit this campaign for a change! Sadly, the last two campaigns were not the least bit profitable for me and let's face it, I can't afford to have campaigns like that, for sure! So wish me luck that the majority of my customers like the current book and order a lot of things this time from it too!



Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Let the Blue Become You!

Today is a very special day. Did you know that?

Perhaps you're thinking well, every day is a very special day and yes, that is true. But today -well today is extra special because it is "Turn the World Blue Day" as it is World Autism Recognition time today!

And, those of you who have been around my blog for a long time now, know why I find this day to be even more special. If there's anyone new to my blog here visiting, I will tell you why this day is so extra special to me.

I have three beautiful grandchildren! My oldest grandchild -now age 16 -is 6 foot 4 inches tall, built like a defensive tackle, smart, sweet, handsome and just plain wonderful! My only granddaughter will be 11 in October and a beautiful little girl she is -looks so much like her aunt, my older daughter, and acts a whole lot like her too much of the time. She's a "DIVA" through and through! A good student in school, she also love dancing and gymnastics and when she visits at my house, you can frequently find her parked at the computer, watching all kinds of videos of dances, dancers and gymnasts and she studies them, then tries to imitate their moves. Sometimes, she does a great job with her attempts to emulate them and sometimes, well -she just keeps watching and trying. Her little brother, who will be 8 this month (on the 13th) is just a total little sweetheart! He too does fairly well academically speaking in school. His reading skills are good and keep improving all the time as he does love to read. Math is not his forte most of the time and I like to think that's genetic from me as I was okay with math but never all that great. But his best and most favorite subject is science and that, he excels at -probably because he is a very curious child and a walking question box at almost all times!

Okay you're thinking, so you have three fantastic grandkids and yes, indeed I do. But two of those grandchildren have something about them that many people consider to be a hardship, a difficult road for them and also, for anyone who is responsible to help them make their way in life then too.

My granddaughter and her little brother, you see, both have autism!

When Maya was a baby, about 7-8 months old, my older daughter and I began to notice some things she did, things she also DIDN'T do too that one normally expects from a baby that age. Mainly that she rarely made good eye contact with us. There were many times from then on that it often seemed that she had a hearing problem as she often appeared to be totally ignoring people when they talked to her. That often becomes something we, as parents or grandparents experience with older children -school age and especially teenagers, that we talk and they totally ignore us! But in small children, is not usually the norm as it appeared to be with her.

Long before she had her first hearing test, I conducted a non-scientific experiment of my own with her and her ability to hear. She always loved watching virtually anything on the tv set and one day, she was sitting in her playpen, busy playing with something there and the tv was not on at the time. I picked up the remote control and turned the tv on. Doing that, the remote makes a very, very faint clicking sound and as soon as that click was heard, Miss Maya was up, standing in the playpen, looking at the tv and waiting for the picture and sound to appear. Yes, that was my way of determining that no, this child did not have a hearing problem!

By the time she began walking, other things became noticeable about her behavior. She rarely really "played" with the toys she had and instead, would often just run back and forth from the living room to the kitchen and back again, occasionally she might see something -a tiny piece of paper or maybe a bit of thread -things that children don't normally select as playthings -and she would then carry that item around all over with her.

But at about 18 months, on a visit one day with her mother and the baby to the pediatrician, I mentioned some of her behaviors and that she rarely seemed to pay attention to what we said to her. Finally, that time, the doctor ordered a hearing test and at the same time, set up an appointment to have Maya evaluated by a team of therapists. The results of that initial evaluation was very unsettling because they rated her as being very developmentally delayed.

How could this be happening was my initial take on this? The child, so perfect in every way, in appearance and yet, something just wasn't right there either. Her mother -my younger daughter -was dissolving in tears more often than not out of sheer terror in her mind about her child.

The result of that evaluation though turned our lives around in that the therapists immediately put a plan into action to have a therapist come to the house and work with Maya on behaviors and another therapist was assigned to also come to the house and do speech therapy with her too.

Thus began a long-term affiliation with a therapist named "Kerri" and another one named "Mandy" -which coincidentally, my older daughter's name is Carrie and my younger daughter's name (used by me) is "Mandy!" Neat, huh?

Those two therapists were later joined by a fantastic lady -Brenda -who we nicknamed the "Toy Lady" because every Tuesday morning she would come to the house and bring some new toy selected for Maya, show it to her, how to "play" with it and then, on Thursday morning, she would return to see how Maya had responded to each toy she received then too! Fantastic the toys that she was given and before long, we had a huge array of more toys than we really knew what to do with! Oh and not just toys, but also from time to time, she would be given books too! This is/was an awesome program developed by the agency we were working with that provided the therapists who worked with Maya too.

It was a long road but with therapy at least twice a week, plus the Toy Lady visit, by the following February, Maya said her first word -"Two." We had been working and working with her, asking her how old are you and then, telling her "Two." Initially, her attempt at the word sound like she was saying "Chew" but we knew it was her pronunciation of her age!

That's what started the ball rolling to get help for my granddaughter. As I said above, she will be 11 this October and is doing remarkably well. I'm not going to post anymore today about our journey and the changes that took place in our household due to what many people thought of as a tragic event -a diagnosis of Autism -because there is so much more of this story to tell.

But, April being Autism Awareness month, I'm going to strive to continue -through the good points and some of the rough ones too -to help others become aware of what can happen with therapy and children with Autism.

It doesn't have to be a tragedy in anyone's life if you look at things from a totally different perspective. I am so grateful today that Maya had this diagnosis and the treatment because for me, it changed me drastically.

It gave me something I had been missing in my life -PATIENCE!

Not enough of it, for sure, but a lot more than I had before and still keep on trying to add more patience into my mode of operation day by day!

Stay tuned! And have a beautiful but very BLUE day!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Phoenix Attempts a Comeback

Actually, I don't consider myself to be like the proverbial "phoenix" -rising from the ashes of my blog that I have pretty much ignored for almost two months now. Let's face it, I'm nowhere near to being of that caliber. But, it's true that I have been extremely lax with my blog.

And for why? Well, I didn't really feel I had time to post anything mainly because my brain was very occupied doing a whole lot of thinking. Not working, mind you - just thinking. Was I busy? Well, sort of. There were several things ongoing in my life that pushed a lot of things aside for quite some time. But the main issue for me then was I just didn't feel up to writing. January and February were both difficult months here.

Not just with the weather but with just about everything, or so it seemed. We lost two very good people who were members of our church during that time. One was a lady who had surgery one week, I believe she had received a pacemaker if I remember correctly. Some of the women in our group had visited her after she came home from the hospital and had said she seemed to be doing quite well. Then one day, when I picked up my mail, there was a card in there addressed to me from this lady for me to read at our next group meeting as it was a thank you from the woman for a bouquet of flowers our group had decided to send her. That afternoon I picked up a copy of the daily paper and was totally shocked when I saw a death notice in that paper -the very same day I had received her thank you note! Incredible! What on earth had happened? She had written in the note that she was feeling much better and hoped to be back at our meetings in the very near future. We later found out she apparently had a blood clot that moved suddenly into her lungs and that was it! Small consolation that it was fast and she really didn't know what hit her so I guess it's best to look at things from that angle whenever one can.

 Then, just a couple weeks after that happened, a man from our congregation -a trucker -was working one day and for some reason or other, had pulled over off the highway and got out of his truck. (Initially, many thought he might have been having some type of problem with the truck or the trailer or his load or some such.) But anyway, he was standing behind the tractor -when apparently the brake he had set on the truck failed and the tractor rolled over on him, crushing him between the tractor and the trailer! Needless to say, this was also one big shock to lose him and especially in the terrible way that he died too.

As many of you, my blogger friends, are very well aware the winter weather this year has seemed  at times to be well on its way to being recorded as the never ending winter! It certainly has been a very cold one, that much is for sure! In all my years, (and remember, I'm OLD) I do not recall ever before enduring three weeks at a clip of temperatures all below zero and then, factoring in the wind chill on top of that, frequently it was more like 25 to 35 below zero here. Not that this area of the country doesn't get really cold temps and also, some extremely low wind chill temps too at times, but for three weeks solid? Not ever that I can recall has it lasted that long before!

 The snow though, I must confess most of that wasn't really all that terrible to contend with. We didn't have a record-breaking total of snow this season -not compared to some winters when we actually had to endure raging blizzards a few times. One year -I think it was my last year in college which was the winter-spring of 1994, we had snow almost every day or at least every other day, from January 2nd until the end of March and the total accumulation was well over 100 inches. This year, the last report I saw on our total accumulation it was only somewhere between 50 and 60 inches.

Another "nice" thing about all but two of the snowfalls we did have was that the snow was the kind that is light and dry -not the great big wet snowflakes that are really hard work to shovel even a small area of sidewalk out, much less the parking area in the front of my house which is large enough to put 5 full-size vehicles in there! So, the majority of the snow we did get, I was able on all but two occasions to shovel the entire parking area out in a matter of about 45 minutes to an hour at most. And I didn't really have to shovel it either as that type of snow was such that I could start with the shovel at the lip of the road and just push the snow across and over the embankment at the edge of the parking area. But then there were those last 2 snow storms when we got hit with the heavier wet stuff and then, I had to actually shovel the stuff. I confess that those two events didn't exactly make a place on my nice snowfall days, for sure!

 The grandkids were here twice over the past 3 months for a weekend though and that helped to curb some of the cabin fever and crankiness I was experiencing. They came up the first weekend in February to celebrate the great-granddaughter's (Lola) first birthday and then, were able to come and spend a weekend with me about 4 or 5 weeks later in March. It was so nice having those two kids in the house again even though much of their time here was spent (or so it seemed at times) with Maya picking on Kurtis a whole lot. I suppose I can call that as normal sibling rivalry but with her and the attitude she often cops with her little brother, she does frequently take things just a tad too far.

I've done a little reading -not an overly large amount, but at least some books I've had here for way too long, intending to read them but never getting around to doing that, I think I did manage to get at least two of them read. Definitely not setting any records for doing something that generally I enjoy very much.

And the same pretty much applies to my needlecrafts too. I have been working on a table topper that I started about 15 months ago but my embroidering has been pretty much rather haphazard - a little here, a little there. I did do a couple small projects -embroidered an apron for Mandy for her birthday. I thought it was really cute as it involved a picture of a wine bottle and a couple glasses of wine with the wording on it "Conserve Water. Drink wine!" I had also embroidered a set of small towels that I thought when I bought them were intended to be "dish towels" however, upon opening the packet and looking at the fabric, I was very disappointed in the quality of the fabric because it was more like embroidery on pillow case material and not something that would work well then to sop up water off one's dishes, ya know! They too had a "Wine theme" with some wine glasses and the saying of "I cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food." Both the towels and the apron I thought were cute and appropriate gifts for Mandy since she has become quite the lover of wine the past year or so. But, because of the quality of the fabric on the towels, I didn't even give them to her then.

January and February are also notorious to most all Avon Ladies too as being the months out of the year that are really difficult to get people to order products and boy, this year was no exception of that rule! It was really sad and very disappointing then too because I earned virtually nothing during those months as my orders were so sparse and small that they barely covered the costs of shipping, getting new brochures every two weeks and purchasing demo items and samples. I confess I was really upset, very depressed with how things went then. Finally, the first order I submitted in March, my sales did pick up somewhat. Not near enough to satisfy me, but enough that at least I wasn't operating in the red then anyway!

Oh well, you know, you can't have everything all the time and I have to accept that there is always and ebb and flow to how people spend their money and how their prioritize their purchases then too where something like Avon is concerned. I just keep telling myself it will get better -this too shall pass kind of pep talk to myself -and yes, it does help and the orders do fluctuate like that as well.

There are a lot of other things that have changed here too -the step-granddaughter and her baby, Lola, moved out of my house the first of March and are now residing in an apartment about 4 miles from me where they are living with the granddaughter's boyfriend. So I now have the entire house all to myself and I confess on that aspect to beginning to enjoy the solitude more now. At the time when Katie moved in here with me, I was still hurting a lot from missing the two younger grandkids -Maya and Kurtis -so it was nice, much of the time, having the baby here. But now -being just me, the silly dog and goofy cat -I can come and go exactly as I please and when I please too. I don't have to worry about figuring out a meal every day for two adults and a baby now. Sometimes, I kind of miss not cooking myself a full meal but much of the time now, I just fix small items, smallish meals, since Sunday is usually the only day of the week that I might end up cooking a dinner for a couple extra folks -usually my son and his girlfriend.

I'm going to end this three-month semi-detailed report of happenings in my life at this juncture now. The other things that have taken place here are going to take  a lot more use of my pea brain to put them into some kind of sense to be type and read here.

And, I do plan on trying to get back to normal and post with some degree, at least, of regularity again.

And in the mean time, let's all try to get ready to welcome spring! At least, hopefully when it finally does show up, it will be a nice and pleasant time. I noticed the other day that the jonquils and crocus plants as well as the tulips were pushing their little heads out of the ground in my paltry flower bed in front of the house so I'm taking that as a definite sign that spring is well on its way here!