Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

Ok, thankfully, Halloween is over and done with - gone for another year!

Little Miss Maya didn't get to go out tonight dressed up cause she slept too long in her nap today and when she woke up, had to have supper - which I was afraid she was going to be miserable for me and not eat cause Mandy took the baby, dressed in his little adorable leopard suit over to the neighbor's for his first "trick or treat" event. She took him over to my best friend Kate's house and then, down to Kate's daughter Karen's place and they both insisted she had to take him then up to Kate's sister, Shirley's place too so Shirley and her husband, Bo, could see how cute and just darling he looked - all smiles, ear to ear, of course! But then, that's his normal pose!

Because Maya has some developmental issues, I was a bit leery of how she might react or respond when the kids started to arrive here, all dressed in their spooky best attire but she did remarkably well. Even though she was somewhat peeved that her Mommy wasn't here to enjoy the strange sights with her, she did very well - didn't run or scream or show any fear - just a little bit of awe at times when she saw kids she knew but wasn't quite sure what to make of the whole deal I guess.

Overall, it was a fun evening with but one exception. There was one group of four kids who showed up here and the leader of the pack - a very tall young man, looked to be about 16 or 17 years old, had a big old (for real, not a make-believe one) tattoo ringing around his bicep and when he came in the house, he even had to stoop to get in the door. I made a comment to him about didn't he think maybe he was a tad too big to be trick or treating and he told me then there were 3 others with him almost as big. I asked them in and one of the two girls in the group said no, she couldn't come in cause she was smoking a cigarette! I then didn't hide the disgust in my voice when I stated if you are big enough, old enough to drive a car and smoke cigarettes too, then you are too damned old to be trick or treating. They still held out their pillowcases and waited for me to drop a trinket of candy into their packs and it still galls me to see kids that darned old taking advantage of an event that should, by all rights, be left to the younger set to enjoy!

Does that attitude make me then the Grinch who stole Halloween? I don't think so and I don't really give a rat's behind if anyone who reads this disagrees with me on that aspect of this little fun holiday either! Go suck my big toe!

But to those who enjoy the fun of halloween, have little ones who look forward to this time of year, I'd just like to say "HAPPY HALLOWEEN!"

And may all your witches be the good ones from the North or South, not wicked and from the East or the West!

Now, let's go eat some candy!

Another Day, Another What?

The old adage goes "Another day, another dollar" but that isn't something I feel like discussing, not exactly anyway.

Maybe I really don't have anything outstanding on my mind this morning other than that I managed to survive my first full day home from the hospital with no major issues. Ok, "another day" bit the dust and that's fine and dandy!

As days go, yesterday was perhaps a bit lackluster I suppose one could say.

I felt things went quite well, from my perspective as I had no problems coping with my new contraption. Of course, I didn't do anything special either like try to change the bag and the barrier which I don't feel near knowledgeable as yet to try that. I did, however, manage to empty it and was quite pleased that my normal tendancy towards being a total klutz didn't surface so the whole procedure there went off quite well -without a hitch! I didn't get any messy stuff on me, on my clothes, nor on the bathroom carpet or the tile! Yippy skippy, chalk one up for the gipper, huh? Hope they all continue to go that easily!

It was a nice day in that I had a visitor - my good friend, Mary Kaye, who stopped by to cheer me on, give me some good hints she had from her years of experience as an LPN as well as the final nine years of her marriage to Joe and how he had dealt with the complexities of living with a colostomy. Kaye and I have shared a good, strong and solid friendship that goes back beyond our high school years and much of it has a foundation in our mutual membership in our church. We both tend to see things that life puts before us from the same focal point. The focus is about to switch in about a month though as she will be undergoing some major surgery too and I just hope I can be there to lend her a little moral support as she heads into that area of her life too.

The grandchildren - always high on my list - were pretty much their normal, sweet and yet very impish little selves. Maya did well yesterday with her speech therapist and Kurtis was just his big sweet-smiling self for much of the day. All of which adds to a lot of pleasantry in the household!

Today, I am to have two visitors - the home health nurse (Susie Gillette) as well as an ostomy nurse from the home health service will be showing up to assist me. It will be nice to see Susie again. She was the nurse who put in my pic line over three years ago when I had the first round of chemo treatments. From Moshannon area, Susie and I share a lot of common ground in that we both know a lot of the same people from her area because I spent about seven years of my working life slaving at the local truckstop there in Snow Shoe. Her sister-in-law is also a former neighbor of mine from childhood too. Yep, lots of things we can always chit-chat about when she comes calling and it makes for an easier visit that way.

Today marks the beginning of the next phase of my "special diet" too. I get to leave the "full liquid" part in the dust now and can add soft foods to my menu now. I'm really looking forward to finally having a bit of a "sated" feeling deep in my tummy after being able to ingest things like soft-scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, other soft-type foods that I can enjoy for not just texture and fullness but also that have a better liking for me in the sense of flavor too! Hopefully, by the weekend, I will be fairly close to back to a more normal eating pattern.

Yesterday, I managed on a can of cream of tomato soup for lunch, a can of cream of asparagus soup for supper and polished off the evening with a nice big dish of vanilla ice cream with some chocolate syrup to top it off for a good flavor addition and had no problems digesting any of it! Yeah! Another milestone reached, huh?

My son-in-law even commented to me last night that he sensed I must be feeling a lot better because I seemed to be moving better, overall, seemed much more chipper. And, I have to agree fully with his assessment too!

No major pains from the surgery is, of course, always a good thing for anyone only a week into the recovery aspect. The main pain is still present though and that's the constant thing just under the skinline along my right side from these freaking shingles that just doesn't want to seem to ever cease and desist. I keep taking the lortabs and it does quell that a little bit but I am dreaming of the day I will get up and have my right side completely painfree! A nice goal and one which I had more means of taking control of getting that to happen as well! Unfortunately, apparently with these shingles, it is something you deal with the way it bounces at you - nothing that you or the medical community can do to hurry any progress along there and that is frustrating.

I had a phone call yesterday too from a cousin of my mother's - Arline Bengston Calhoun. Always so nice to talk to her! She's a gem among my family tree members and I consider myself - and my kids - to be very blessed to have a really close relationship with Arline. Her Mom was my maternal grandfather's baby sister and was one of my favorites of my great-aunts and uncles. Such a sweetheart was Aunt Elin and Arline is pretty much as close to being a clone of her mother as anyone can be. Arline's daughter, Sandy, who looks very much like her grandmother, also acts so much like her too that it always gives me such a warm feeling there - just makes me feel Aunt Elin is still walking in our midst you know.

So, although the day was kind of blah in some respects - no calamaties or anything like that - it was pleasant and good and just the kind of easy day that makes you really happy to still be around to see what today might have to offer as well.

To top the day off last night, my son Clate stopped by after he closed the local bar (where he works parttime, evenings) for the night. Seeing him always makes me feel darned good too. Add to that, a phone call last evening from my "little prince" - Grandson Alex - and his mother - and hearing Alex recount a little about his final football game on Sunday of the pee-wee league season, getting a little bit of updating on his trumpet practice and learning about music and that instrument, plus his commentary on his school work (I'm getting lots of good grades, Grammy J) is always good stuff for my old ears to hear! I made a deal with Alex too. I reminded him that as he knows, Grammy J doesn't buy toys for the grandchildren and I'm not that keen on purchasing clothes either cause I don't remember sizes well nor am I up on individual tastes in clothing styles these days for kids but I do love to give him books and so far, he enjoys reading very much too. So, I told him to make a list of books he thinks he would enjoy receiving and give it to his mother and for her to pass this along to me. That way, over the next two months, when Gram does get out and is able to do a little shopping here and there, I can look for some of these books and hopefully find a couple to present to him under the tree come Christmas morning!

He was very agreeable to that idea as was his mother and I think it makes for a better arrangement all around for us. No book is ever a bad gift in my opinion!

And, I hope his attitude about reading and books always stays as it is now - good and solid! Can't go wrong there, can we?

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Published Book!

Boy, how's this for excitement? I'm now a "published author" in an e-book collection of Halloween type stories!

The book - "Haunted Happenings in Writersville" is available as an e-book - and is a collection of various types of short stories with a halloween-type twist to them by several members of the Writersville group - an eclectic group of published writers or writer-wannabes (like me). Some stories have a sci-fi or paranormal theme, others are just nifty little spooky type writings but I think all of 'em are really pretty doggone good.

I'm not quite sure how this thing works but I believe if you are interested in ordering a free copy, you can do this by contacting Dorothy Thomas, who is the "ring leader" of the Writersville group. Here's the website where Dorothy can be reached and you can have her send you your very own copy of this e-book to read on your computer, at your leisure. Look for my piece which is either the last entry or next to the last in the book. Then, let me know what you think of our collective efforts in this little collection!


If that above place doesn't get you to where you need to be to get a copy of this fantastic writing, then e-mail me or put a comment into my blog and I'll check with Dorothy about the exact protocol so you can be able to read this stupendous collection!

Happy Halloween to One and All and to all a Good Night!

Ah, Medicine Marches On!

Having spent the past week in the "care" of the staff at a major teaching hospital in Pittsburgh - after having a colostomy a week ago today - I just thought I would spend a little time today reporting on the wonderful care, especially the excellence in dietary concerns, I received at this fine establishment.

First off, my surgery was scheduled for 11:45 a.m. last Monday and I was to report into the hospital at 9:15 for the preliminary check-in stuff you know.

Since my home is about 140 miles east of Pittsburgh, my daughter, her fiance and I left here about 5:45 a.m. to make the drive to the 'Burgh and arrived on time. Now, that alone is a minor miracle considering it was my daughter who generally is late, late, late for everything and we were on time. I'm sorry I can't say the same followed through for my surgery though.

By 1 p.m., my surgeon came to talk to me and he was not exactly a happy camper as by that time, I was 75 minutes overdue on my scheduled appearance for the operating room. And, the news the surgeon had then was far from good as he told me they anticipated at least another 2 hours in delays before mine would be done! Wonderful.

As things ended up, I was finally wheeled in to the O.R. and surgery began at 5:45 p.m. There's a good start for you, huh?

Of course, as is the case with abdominal surgery, you get nothing to eat until you manage to show some evidence of "gas" passing through whatever orifices are available for that means. Well, in my case, that meant I got nothing by mouth till Wednesday afternoon and then, my susentance amounted to a cup of broth (chicken, of course), a dish of jello, juice and a cup of tea. Lovely! The same meal was given to me with the only change being the type of broth being rotated from chicken to beef consomme over the next two days till I was really sick to the death of chicken or beef broth! Gets old, really really fast you know!

The staff, although very nice and friendly, seemed to be operating in a constant state of confusion though where one hand hadn't a clue as to what the other hand was doing. You could ring for the nursing staff, tell them your concern and they would say that the nurse would be notified and 30-60 minutes later, the nurse had no clue as to any requests having been made. Communication? Something lacking here, in my opinion.

Friday, I just about was ready to get into a "knock-down, drag-out" fight with the nurse on duty with me over my IV. They changed the bag and added another to the mix and as it started to run into my left hand, I could feel a terrible cramping pain beginning at the base of the fingers and running down to the left wrist - felt like someone was twisting the living daylights out of my hand. When I complained that there was a problem with the iv, she insisted it was the potassium and it was merely burning. I told her it wasn't burning, but rather was cramping but she refused to take my word for it. Finally, I convinced her there was a problem and she removed the iv from that hand but was unable herself to start a new iv in the right hand so she called some other tech person in who set up the new iv hookup in my right hand.

She then started the iv in the right hand and initially, it seemed to be running ok and then, it started to have a similar reaction but this time, it was aching and cramping halfway down my right arm! The thought of laying there for however long it would take for that bag to drip into my system and with it causing that much constant pain, had me throwing a mega fit - so much so that if I could have figured out a way to put out an APB on my surgeon, I would have done that - and finally, "Nurse Ratchet" decided to cancel the iv. She kept telling me it was the potassium drip that was doing this and that the problem was that some patients don't tolerate it. Well, if you are one of those patients who "don't tolerate it" do you just lay there and let them keep you in misery?

When my surgeon finally appeared shortly after this ordeal and I told him, he said I was right in having the nurse discontinue the drip! Thankfully!

Saturday, I had my diet upgraded from clear to full liquid - which only means that instead of getting just clear soup, you now get a cream type soup plus maybe ice cream or pudding to eat. The soup - hmmm - some strange creamy concoction with no definite name though - just strained 'cream' soup! I never did figure out what the flavor in this soup was other than some chicken broth based stuff judging by the amount of yellowish oily substance in it. The first meal of this wasn't too bad - it was thick enough, fairly fresh then too but by the last dose of this soup Sunday night, I had had enough of the "cream" soup flavor of the week that was apparently their menu choice.

My surgeon had told my daughters and me that the bulk of my stay after the surgery would really be taken up with the wound/ostomy nurses giving instruction in how to care for the stoma and the bag - cleaning, emptying, changing the barrier, the bag, etc. Yeah, right! Wednesday was the first day I saw an ostomy nurse who showed me zilch. Friday, another ostomy nurse did come in and change the bag and barrier and gave me a little course in the care thereof but not enough training for me to know what the hell I was doing with the system!

Saturday, another ostomy nurse came to show me the ropes. She did do a good job in trying to lead me through the procedure. In the process, the emptied the bag into a big plastic type cup and boy, there's something that is enough to gag a maggot! Talk about a foul, foul smelling ordeal! After all was completed, she cleaned the stuff (towels, washclothes, etc) off my bed, tossed the garbage stuff in the wastecan in the bathroom and disappeared.

Think that is the end of that story? Think again! I sat there in my bed and the aroma - which I already said was really putrid - kept wafting over me till finally, I went in search of a nurse's aid to see if she would empty the trash can in my bathroom as I figured that was the culprit. Wrong! The aid, when she came in, discovered the ostomy nurse had set the plastic cup container with the fecal material on top of the commode and just left it sitting there - out in the open to spread the fumes far and wide for all within range to get the full benefit and enjoy this smell! Thankfully, the aide took care of that situation for me too!

Finally, Sunday morning rolled around and I was really happy when the team of doctors checking up on me said I could call home and tell my kids they could come and pick their mamma up - they'd had enough apparently of my sweet, pleasant (bitchy) disposition for one week's time and I could go home! Best news I'd had in a long while!

My son and daughter picked me up about 6 p.m. and away we went, heading for the hills of central Pennsylvania. We made a stop at the TA Truckstop in Brookville for some coffee and food - something that I hope was ok in that the choices I had available from their menu to what was supposed to be allowed on my diet didn't quit match up but I decided to try some very soft scrambled eggs and a dish of cottage cheese. Not exactly "liquid" foods but the soups they had on the menu yesterday would never have been acceptable. So far, I guess it went through ok as I haven't been sick to my stomach anyway!

This morning, I did eat some instant cream of wheat cereal - yuck! I don't mind that kind of cereal but don't like it in the "instant" version. I'll be happy when I will be allowed to have hot cooked oatmeal in a day or two for my breakfasts! This afternoon I am planning a little treat to my system - cream of tomato soup! Hopefully, that will be ok to eat! It better be is about all I can say!

There's probably more I could say - bitch about, that is - pertaining to my hospital stay but thankfully, my memory tends to cloud when it is the short term aspect put into play so I have forgotten most of the stuff that tended to irritate me at the time when it happened.

Big hospitals, teaching hospitals, may have all kinds of equipment unheard of in the hinterland community hospital available where I live, but if I were to be given a choice of which hospital I would prefer to spend time in as a patient, give me the small places out in the boondocks where they give you a little bit of actual "nursing care."

Wonder what Florence Nightengale would say about her profession at these bigger hospitals anyway?

"No Place Like Home!"

Boy, Dorothy sure was right on target in her assessment about "home." No place like it!

And, that's where I am - once again. Arrived back in the olde homestead about 10 p.m. Sunday night and damned pleased to be here too, I am!

My son (Clate) and younger daughter (Mandy) arrived at the hospital about 6 p.m. yesterday to return me to my proper place and after a short stop in Brookville at the truckstop there for coffee and a bit of food, we got back here about 10 p.m. Not a minute too soon in my book.

My granddaughter seemed very happy that I was back - did a big dance of some sort -her version of the jig I guess - in her playpen when she saw me waltz in the door but then, it took her about an hour before she would come over to the edge of the playpen and extend her arms to give old Grammie a hug and a kiss! Guess she was getting even with me for being gone from her for a week's time without getting her approval first, huh?

But, when she did finally make amends with me again, it was worth the hour's delay cause it was the sweetest hug and kiss that little one has ever given me! Or maybe it was because old Gram was just so darned happy to be back home with her babies around her once again.

The results of my week-long stay down in Pittsburgh are as follows: I now have a colostomy. However, I am not quite sure if this is a permanent type or is the kind that might be reversible at some point in the future. I have to go back for a checkup with the surgeon in two weeks, so maybe I will be given a little more feedback and information as to what to expect at that time. The surgeon did inform me on Friday though that he had the lab results of all the biopsy stuff he did on Monday and all the tests came back with not a trace of Cancer there so that sounds pretty darned positive to me.

Right now, I'm still learning how to operate with this lovely contraption on my belly - lovely little bag, it is! Not exactly something appealing to deal with at times - especially when it is time to clean the thing, change the bag and the barrier, etc. But, I will say this much - so far, compared to other surgeries I have had, this is a bit lower on the pain scales but that is probably because I don't have any major incision and loads of stitches or staples to contend with. Just a hole in my belly with a little cap and bag that goes over top of it all and catches all my leftover bodily residue as it passes out of my system. Just gonna take a little bit of getting used to the whole deal you know!

Today, it's my understanding that the home health nurse is to come here and that will be interesting since we were told it will be the same nurse I had three years back when I had a pic-line and chemo running 24-7 for about 6-7 weeks then. It will be nice to see Susie (the nurse) again, catch up on gossip from down in the area where she lives (where I worked 20 years ago) and just in general, to see her again!

More postings to come about my week in the hospital - some things not so hot, in my opinion, some that might gross folks out too, so beware, and just a little bit of this and that about my little time away from home and family.

When my son went to leave last night, as is his way, he leaned over to kiss the top of my head and hugged me, saying "Welcome back home Mamma! I'm so glad you're back here!"

And, my response to him was "I'm very pleased that I could oblige!"

Yep, sure is great to be back home once again! Oz has nothing on this place nor does Kansas!

Monday, October 23, 2006

A New Phase

I finally managed to get my system to settle down enough that I was able to fall asleep for a while. Luckily, the blasted shingles and the pain from them, woke me up just before midnight so I could take another pain pill prior to my deadline. Nothing at all by mouth after midnight!

And, while I am waiting for a bit now for that pill to kick into gear, relax me enough (hopefully) to get maybe another three hours of sleep in before I have to get up and ready to leave, I figured why not write a bit more.

Why not indeed?

This day will make a marked change in my life. Depending on the results of the needle biopsy the surgeon will do just prior to the actual surgery, I will be returning home with a new addition to my body. A stoma.

What's a stoma? Well, it's an opening into the body. And, in my case, it will be for either an ileostomy or a colostomy. Either way, this will be a method for my waste products of my body to exit into a lovely little bag. And, that will be a big change for me from calling myself the "Avon Lady" to the "Bag Lady!" I hope the fact I am poking humor at this - or trying to do that - doesn't offend anyone. In many respects, I probably shouldn't be making fun of the situation as it is serious, that part is true enough. But, it is my nature to try to pull ANY situation apart and poke fun at it as much as I possibly can and for me, it is what has pulled me through on many occasions that were far, far from funny.

There's more to the stoma, bag, type of ostomy I will be having but I'm not going to dwell on those aspects simply because they are part of the unknown right now. So, until I get home from the hospital - most likely they tell me either Thursday or Friday is when I will be discharged - I'll leave that part of the unknown aspect of things alone.

I'm going to go off on a slightly different plane here tonight too though and talk about some other things, very important things in my book, but things that often we don't discuss near enough.


Let me tell you, my readers, about one relationship I've had for over sixty years now and it's still alive, functions just fine and dandy and is one that is very important to me. It's a friendship I have had over all my cognizant life with a lady who lives three doors down the street from me. Kate!

Kate and I grew up together. Her family home was two doors from mine; her siblings were as close to me in many ways as one could possibly be but yet, not related to each other. Her parents were much like surrogate parents to me as well. I joke at times about the relationship I have with Kate and with her oldest sister, Shirley, in that Kate is my oldest friend, in the sense that we have always been very, very close friends but her sister Shirley, is really my "Oldest" friend but that is because Shirley is eight years Kate's and my senior. Hope you are following my convoluted logic on that one.

Kate and I traveled many roads together to get to this point in time. Through twelve years of grade school and high school, we were always together. In high school, we took a slightly different path here and there as she took the higher level classes - physics, trigonometry - whereas I steered totally clear of those puppies. Oh, and she also took Algebra 2, another class I avoided like the plague too. However, that move came back many years later to haunt me when I decided to go to college at the grand old age of 46, and learned I was unable to be accepted as a degree seeking candidate at Penn State - after having completed my freshman year there - because I was lacking a "Carnegie credit." I had no idea in the world what the Hell a Carnegie credit was but found out - it was a high school course one had to have to be able to request entry as a degree seeking student. Well, I already knew how many math classes I was going to have to complete to fulfill the University's "Gen Ed" requirements and knew full well too that there was no way I could take those math classes until I took two non-credit but three credit classes to compensate for my math incompetency! I just didn't know I had to take those classes within the University's time span. A side note here is that I took those courses - hated every bloody minute of them too - did well enough to get a C in them and I was happy! To fulfill the University's gen ed requirements, I took two classes in Statistics - again, two classes I hated with a passion but somehow managed to survive them each with, again a C grade! 'Nuff said about my math problems! What the hell I needed them for is beyond me as I have never used one iota of information from them, but that's all a part of life isn't it? And, I'm digressing right now too, so back on track.

Kate, you see, went to Nurse's training immediately after graduation and became a registered nurse. She also married three months after graduation from Nurse's training and her first child was born a month to the day prior to the arrival of my first child.

At that time, Kate was still living here - in Pennsylvania, in the village where we grew up no less and she and Jim, her husband, had also bought a house - the one where they have lived for about forty years or so now - three doors down and across the street from my family homestead.

I, on the other hand, was living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in Maryland, working in D.C. and was also not married when I had my first child.

Kate's daughter's name is Karen - the name she had decided upon when we were kids and big fans of the Mickey Mouse Club - and my daughter's name is Carlyn but her nickname is Carrie. I decided on that name while in the hospital because I wanted a name in which I could honor two members of my family tree who had died six weeks before my daughter was born. Those people were my Mom's oldest brother and a sister of my Grandmother who I had always been quite close too. My uncle's name was Bertrum Carl; my Great-aunt's name had been Caroline so I decided to use the Carl of my Uncle's middle name and improvise a bit with the spelling of my Aunt's name - instead of Caroline, making it Carolyn - put the "lyn" with the "Carl" and presto magic, she was named (in my mind) for both of them. That way, I could easily make the nickname "Carrie" which is what everyone always called that Great Aunt anyway.

When my Carrie was five years old, I finally got married and that same summer, my husband (ex, now) and I moved from D.C./MD back to Pennsylvania and to this area of the state. And within two years, we built a home next door to my family homestead and once again, Kate and I were neighbors, as well as friends. And what's more, our daughters grew up then together the same as Kate and I had done. And, Kate's parents became surrogate grandparents to all three of my children, just as they had been to me for so many years.

It's been a good relationship we have shared over these many - sixty plus - years. We've endured a lot of hurts over those years for sure and because we had each other to lean on, I think it has made us both able to cope with many very painful events.

Back in 1976, a month to the day before my youngest child was born, there was a terrible event in Kate's life, which also affected not just me, but many, many folks in this community. Her brother, who was three years our junior, shot himself.

It was something so out of character for her brother to do this - no one, not a soul who knew him, had ever thought he would, much less could, do something this horrific.

I remember exactly where I was when I learned about this and my reaction was that I almost passed out. I came home, saw that my Mom was still up and came in to talk to her about this. Actually, I had to tell her what had happened just a couple hours earlier in the evening and she, like me, was totally dumbfounded and we were both grief-stricken too. My Mom always had a special spot in her heart for Bobby as she, being a registered nurse, had been with his mother when he was born on Christmas Eve in 1947 and had also taken care of Bobby and his mother during the first few days of his life as well.

The next morning, Mom and I walked over together to Bob and Kate's parents' home to hold each other, to talk, to try to be supportive, and yes, to sob together too over the loss. Kate's dad, especially, who was always a very jovial man, was as one could expect, extremely distraught by this event as was her mother, of course. It was indeed a surreal time, very much one of disbelief. Little did I know that it would come back to haunt me when in March of 1982, my cousin David, would take his own life too. And, what was really eerie about my cousin's suicide was that every time I saw him at family gatherings he would always ask me again and again if anyone knew why Bob had chosen that route. And the answer from me was always the same too - no one had a clue then, nor 30 years later, is there anyone who has any idea why he felt this was the only way he could proceed. It is indeed hard to concieve that either of these young men -both who were married, both who were devoted to their wives, both who were also very active in their church and especially with the youth groups there too - could do this. The biggest difference between Bob and David was that Dave and his wife had three little girls, whereas Bob and his wife were childless. And, as I learned after Dave's death, we - our family - was able to figure out what was the driving force that made Dave make this drastic move -he was an alcoholic.

Moving on, down the road, Kate was there for me when my Mom died and in turn, when she lost her parents years later, I was there for her at that time too. My children also were there when Kate's parents passed as they had over the years always referred to Kate's parents as "Little Grandma" and "Little Grandpa" - the names Kate's daughter had given to her maternal grandparents. To this day, when my kids and I mention Kate's parents, it is still by those nicknames.

Kate and I are, in many respects, as different as day and night. Kate is very quiet, serious in nature, whereas I tend to be boisterous, outgoing - ok, loud! Kate is meticulous about virtually everything she does and I am a total slob. Kate is very active in our church, particularly in the women's group there and me - well, I am not what would be considered by many to be a good church member. My attendance tends to be somewhat sporadic and as to the women's group, I've never joined it.

Part of the reasons behind the differences in us, with respect to church, attendance, the women's group, stems from the fact that for many years after my divorce, my work schedule was such that attending services was often problematic and getting involved in the side group was totally impossible with my work schedules.

Kate and I, when we were adolescents and teens, both got involved in the local 4-H club and both served as officers in the group, both attended several conferences at Penn State University too while in our teens. Our club group always focused on either cooking or sewing for our projects and to this day, Kate still has a particular recipe for Creamy oven potatoes that we got from the cooking part of our membership.

Kate is also a talented crafter - especially with embroidery and counted cross stitch - as is her older sister, Shirley. I like regular embroidery but am not an expert with it and have too many issues with my vision to do very well with the counted cross stitch stuff. No matter how many times Kate and her sister Shirley tell me it is really easy, really fun to do too, I just can't manage to do that stuff well enough to make it a worthwhile project.

My son, who is quite a mimic, does imitations of Kate as well as of her husband, Jim, too. His main thing he picked up about Kate is her frequent response to many things is to put her hand to her chin and simply say "Oh, my!" Doesn't sound like any big deal there now does it but Clate - my son - can take most any little event and turn it into a bit of comedy routine with Kate and her "Oh, My!"

Over the years, in school, Kate and I were pretty much neck and neck till we entered high school and I decided there was more to life than studying all the time. The end result there was Kate graduated as our class president and also, class valedictorian. My Mom never really forgave me for my laxity about my classes and studying as she always felt I could have been an honor student too had I just applied myself a bit. Maybe so, but that just wasn't my way and that probably was not a good way to take either when I look back on those years.

About the only things in life I came out ahead on with Kate would be that I made it to the Spelling Bee tryouts here in 6th grade and again in 8th grade - no big deal there though since I got beaten out at the initial levels both times and also, in 5th or 6th grade - don't remember which year there - the teacher had a contest to see which student could read the most books during our school year and I won that, hands down.

Every summer, from about 3rd or 4th grade on, Kate and I were regular patrons of the county bookmobile. We would be the first in line to enter the truck containing the treasure trove of books and would come home usually with 5 or 6 books each week to read during that time until the bookmobile came back to town. One book, in particular, we discovered back when we were probably 9 or 10 years old and that book, we both read over and over every single summer until we graduated from high school. I don't recall the author's name but the title of the book was "Jonica's Island" and it was our all-time favorite reading piece, year after year.

What does all this have to do with other things going on in my life right now?

Well, it all came back to me tonight when Kate called me for a little chat - something we rarely do - just because she wanted to tell me, in her own way, that yes, after all these years, our friendship is still intact, strong as ever, and that she holds me in her thoughts and prayers as I travel down this next part of the road ahead.

And, how nice it is to know that there is still a friend after six decades who takes a few minutes of time to call and tell you that.

That's not really a new phase in my life - as my title here might imply - but it is a way of telling me as I enter what is going to be a new phase for me, the old aspects are still here, strong and coming through for me, loud and clear.

See you this weekend, Kate! And thanks, much love and peace to you for having stayed the course with me over all this time.

Really, you are the best friend a person could possibly hope for.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bleak Sabbath

No, I didn't misspell anything in my title. And no, I am not going to inadvertently discuss some musical group either. I just thought it was an appropriate means to discuss what's going to be going on here today.

First off, it is Sunday - which is also referred to as the Sabbath, is it not. So that's appropriate.

Second, today is the day before my scheduled abdominal surgery tomorrow, which means my diet today will be severely limited - clear liquid will be the extent of what I will be ingesting.

And finally, it also means I must drink two bottles, an ounce and a half in each one, of Phosphate laxative to perform internal housecleaning on my system. This in turn of course means that shortly after I start to drink this stuff - which by the way will curl your toe nails and give you a fixation about ever drinking things like 7-up, Mountain Dew, maybe even lemonnade, eating chicken broth, lemon or lime jello, ever again. My stomach goes into flip-flops now as soon as the stuff hits my tongue and starts to churn.

I was given the option of downing two bottles of magnesium citrate which is another horrid and disgusting flavor of laxative, or I could have opted to drink a gallon - YES, A GALLON, of stuff that is a "lightly flavored with lemon-lime" concoction. Trying to down a gallon of this stuff is to me, a fate worse than death.

Two months ago though, a local surgeon who performed a colonoscopy on me prescribed this phosphate junk and though it tastes just a terrible as the other two laxatives, because it comes in little bottles containing merely an ounce and a half, and my logic goes that a shot of whiskey amounts to two ounces and I can drink that straight down, then why not this stuff too? I merely hold my nose, swig one little bottle of this stuff, then reach for a huge, huge tumbler glass of cold water to use as a massive chaser, mainly to kill the taste as much as possible, as well as to start it into action.

And then I wait.

For after an hour to two hours from when I first down this junk, my bowels will go into a massive uproar and I will then spend roughly the next 4-6 hours after that camped out in the bathroom. We won't discuss any further what will be taking place there. No need to get THAT graphic.

But that to me entails a very bleak day ahead.

So now you know why I am referring to this day as "Bleak Sabbath."

And, aren't you ever so happy you stopped by to learn about this highly exciting event?

So go ahead now - share your "bathroom" stories with the world.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

MEME Response

Being new - relatively speaking - to the blogging world, I've seen on various others blogs the MEME things and lo and behold, last nite, Barb - who has been reading and commenting in my blog, hit me with one of these things.

It took me a while to think of answers to these things but finally, I completed it - all except the tagging of another's blog. Although I guess I kind of lurk around in the blogosphere, reading other blogs randomly, I haven't really established that much in a line of communication as yet, other than with Barb and now, I see her husband Mike is reading and commenting too on my blog. Makes me feel good though to get comments on my thoughts, (good, bad or indifferent - just no spam junk on it, please!).

So, with all the above in mind, here's my responses to the MEME Barb tagged to me.

5 Thingamajigs I Like:
YARN – finding a great sale on the stuff is a double pleasure
My Grandchildren - Being able to be with Maya and Kurtis 24-7, Alex whenver it is possible.
Doing research via Ancestry.com’s historic newspapers about my local community.
Having my computer, my blog, e-mailing family and friends
Eating freshly baked Swedish Limpa Rye bread with lots of REAL butter on it

5 Thingamajigs I Hate:
Trying to get my stepgranddaughter to appreciate ANYTHING
Trying to get my stepgranddaughter to understand the importance of education
Many, many politicians – from the local legislator up to the top in Washington.

5 Thingamajigs I Do Far Too Often:
Forget important things
Play on the computer

5 Thingamajigs I Do Even Though I Shouldn't:
Forget important things
Play on the computer

5 Thingamajigs I Would Never Do:
Touch snakes
Touch spiders, other than with my foot with a shoe on it to squash it. Yeah, Killer, I know!
Try to be church organist again.
Disown my kids or grandchildren
Forget about the importance of extended family as well as immediate members.

5 Thingamajigs I Regret Doing:
Waiting so long to go to college (graduated at age 50)
Being too judgmental at times
Not speaking up to a neighbor who said racist things to the “fresh air” child my ex and I had for two weeks one summer about 30 years ago.
Not joining Al-Anon before I did.

5 Thingamajigs I Would Do If I Won 100 Million Dollars:
Pay off all my bills and my kids debts.
Buy a Winnebago RV
Drive the Winnebago all over this country!
Take a trip to Sweden and Scotland – other countries too if possible – but my ancestry is Swedish and Scotch, therefore my interest in those two countries first.
Set up college funds for my grandchildren

5 Thingamajigs About Me That Are Peculiar But True:
I can’t think of any right now but I bet if you asked my kids, friends, other family members too, they could give an earful!

5 Thingama-Blogs I Tag:
Blogging is still very new to me, don’t really “know” another fellow bloggers well enough to hit them right now with one of these things.

Grumbles, Rumbles and Rambles

I've taken the time to do a little "ranting" here before but when I did, I usually fixated on one particular thing that was the "irritant au jour."

Today, I decided the time had come to take on a whole raft of things I consider to be either totally irrational or absurd or just generally, a royal pain in the behind.

One thing I do every morning after I check my morning e-mail is to log into the Centre Daily Times website - a morning paper out of State College, PA - and read what's happened in the neighboring county in the past 24 hours or so. I am a faithful reader of their opinion page and have a love/hate relationship at times with the "letters to the editor" section there. For what touts itself as a highly "Educated" community, sometimes I feel that aspect is sorely lacking in many who proudly assert their high-level of knowledge, gained via their degree from Penn State University.

Such was the case last week when I read a letter to the editor that really irked the living daylights out of me.

I suppose Penn State isn't much different from many other university towns across the country with the problems of alcohol abuse that tend to erupt in higher numbers on football game weekends. I can't, in all honesty, say that I have never joined in some form of revelry too on various occasions to celebrate athletic events, victories, etc. Heck, back in the early '70's while I was working in D.C., living in Maryland, and when the Redskins were in the midst of their first big winning season in lord knows how many years of deprivation of winning ANYTHING, I went along with a group of friends from the local bar I frequented to Dulles Airport to welcome the 'Skins home from a victorious game (I think it was over the KC Chiefs but my memory ain't exactly what it used to be so that might be wrong) and a big - and I DO MEAN BIG - celebration at the airport at 1 a.m. I would be lying if I said we weren't fueled by a bit more beverages of alcoholic content than one should probably indulge in. But, no one ripped the airport apart, no one rioted in the streets of our nation's capitol in the name of the 'Skins and their winning season.

Such is not the case in recent times has been my observation.

Penn State University, State College on various occasions over the last decade has not fared so well. There have been out and out riots there that damaged university property as well as many business in the downtown area too - all in the name of "having fun." Sorry, but I don't see how destruction constitutes a fun time!

The writer of the particular recent letter that set my teeth on edge said is was downright shameful for local folks to get angry, upset, to NOT expect people to celebrate in this manner. Give me a break, will ya fella?

He even went so far as to say to expect good behavior, to being disgusted with antics that might be so benign as ripping down the goalposts at Beaver Stadium, or breaking store front windows or simple actions that showed how alcohol can bring out the jackass tendency in anyone was blasphemy. Excuse me! Come again there!

No one should feel it is their RIGHT to destroy another's property in the name of an athletic event and victory.

Hell's Bells! Even when people across the nation celebrated the end of World War II and I would bet my last buck that there was a heck of a lot more at stake in that victory than there is now or ever will be in any football contest, didn't riot and create mayhem in our cities and towns, did they? A little ticker-tape here and there is a far cry from overturned automobiles, setting fires, breaking windows of store fronts, tearing down traffic lights and such - for openers.

The same day that letter appeared, the CDT also had an editorial about the actions of the Pennsylvania General Assembly whose behavior over the past year has been quite akin to that of obnoxious, drunken revelers and in some ways, perhaps just as destructive too. A pay raise passed in July of 2005 and later repealed in November that gave legislators and judges raises amounting from 16 percent to 54 percent of their then current pay rate was just the top of the list in the many "misdemeanors" of the legislature. Taxes are getting obscene here, lobbying in Harrisburg (and Washington) is out-of-hand and corruption seems to be the password for both state and federal politicians.

Last summer, in the heat of my anger, I joined up with a grassroots political effort - PACleansweep.com - and fully agreed with their mantra then - still do too for that matter - of not voting for ANY incumbent in the elections this fall. For me, that is not going to be a problem to vote for anyone who is running against our legislator from my home district even though he is a Democrat and I am also a registered Democrat too. I haven't been a fan of his for several years now and for a variety of reasons. I've also never been one to vote straight party either so I have no qualms about going to the other side of the fence from time to time. But, this year, the choices being given to the voters in this state are far from giving us a balance to choose from. For governor, we can either vote for Rendell (the incumbent democrat also known as "Fast Eddie") or we can vote for Lynn Swann, a Republican who I liked somewhat initially until I saw how little he actually had to say as well as how the old line Republicans had railroaded out Bill Scranton as a potential candidate and endorsed Swann with their same old, same old party rhetoric. What choice is left? For me, inexperienced as many say this guy is, and although some who have dealt with him in closer range than I have over the past 15 months or so, I will opt to do a write-in vote for Russ Diamond, the founder of the PACleansweep.com group. Some will say this is a wasted vote as he has as much chance as does a snowball in hell, but I say this is the best way I know to try to give a message to the parties in general that I am dissatisfied with the way they do business here.

The past couple of weeks and the revelations coming forth from Washington about Rep. Mark Folay and his adventures - in person and with e-mails or instant messages to and with young people serving as pages in our Congress and Senate - while posing as an advocate against sexual predators has to give one definite cause to think "What's wrong with this picture?" And, for the others in our astute governing body to attempt to cover up for him - how very wrong is that?

There's long been a little essay floating about via e-mails everywhere - who hasn't seen this one? - about the demise of "Common Sense" and brother, the older I get, the more I read and see how our society is prone to act nowadays, the more I believe that yes, common sense has picked up and moved to greener pastures somewhere else. Wish I knew where that "somewhere else" might be as there are times I think I'd love to move there too.

Our school systems are a mess with this lovely, probably well-intended, sounds good in theory but in practice, in reality, lousy setup touted by DUBYA - "No Child Left Behind." Teachers, schools, that must institute all kinds of rules that they have little ability to enforce for one stupid reason or another over something as simple as decent behavior to be expected from the students and enforceable by the administration is ridiculous. What has happened to parents first teaching children some form of manners, etiquette, etc., at home before the kids first enter the school system and for parents to expect that their rules in that respect be abided by from the children?

When I was in grade school, in high school, it was a different era for sure. We had no phone at home but somehow if I had misbehaved in school, the news of what I had done beat me home and I was greeted by a none-to-happy mother who would proceed to read me the riot act. Discipline in schools as well as at home was something that was used - STRONGLY! What's wrong with that being followed today too? In my book, not a darned thing!

When people around the rural area where I live learned I was going to college as a "returning adult student" (graduating at age 50 with my B.S.) many asked if I was going to major in education and become a teacher. No way! The thought of dealing with 25-30 kids who were as bad as my three could be at home at times but with no means at hand to reprimand those kids, was something totally abhorrent to my mind! At least, at home, I could rant and rave at my kids, even risk giving them a bop upside the back of their head too if I felt there was a need to better get their attention. But in the schools today, heck teachers can't even give little kids a hug to say "job well done" when the occasion calls for it and to try to exert a little other pressures to get an improvement in their behavior is out of the question. Yep, there sure as heck is something wrong with this picture isn't there?

I think that is about all I best rant about today at the risk of getting my blood pressure skyrocketing, creating extra acid in my stomach that will just give me a massive case of heartburn and end this diatribe for one morning.

Don't be surprise though if it resurfaces again - probably guaranteed to show up the day after the November elections, if not sooner.

Friday, October 20, 2006

By Any Name, Still the Same

Was it Shakespeare who coined the phrase "A rose, by any name, is still a rose?" If it wasn't him, it was some other literary giant of a few centuries ago and I doubt there are any folks out there who don't know the quote, don't use it too, from time to time.

If you've been reading my blog, you'll recall a few days ago I talked about how my son had chosen to decorate my kitchen floor (and his pajama bottoms too) with cold cereals, oatmeal and syrup. Yeah, such a nice memory that is to recall.

Well, history it seems does repeat itself.

Today, my three-year-old granddaughter managed to get her little hands on a small container of powdered, flavored creamer - "French Vanilla" to be exact - and now the downstairs of the house has a delightful aroma of vanilla!

I should have been more alert since yesterday, I did detect a little bit of the powdered creamer having been lightly sprinkled on the deskpad in front of my computer monitor, but I just brushed it off - literally as well as figuratively - thinking this was not really a big deal.

Well, when you have that stuff spread generously across the kitchen floor and end up tracking it all over the rest of the house too, then it becomes something you don't "brush off" all too easily!

I need to have higher cabinets and counters installed in the kitchen, that's all there is to it!

Meanwhile, pray for a nice segue to her taking a nap this afternoon, please!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Worse Than "The Plague"

Today I am going to discuss something those who have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of my many e-mails or who have followed along in my blog since its beginning, have heard me make mention about on numberous occasions.

It's called "SHINGLES!" And trust me when I tell you this, I think it has to be the very worst disease or condition or whatever the hell it is considered to be in the medical annals!

I'm not going to go into the details about how it gets its name - you can look it up in any medical dictionary or medical website too for that matter. But it is a royal pain!

Mine started on August 26th, the morning after I had had a colonoscopy but I don't think the two are related in any way, shape or form. It think it was just my time to get hit with this really nasty problem to add to the others already in my life.

It began with a sharp, stabbing pain that went from the right to left side of my back, slightly below the shoulder blade and was strong enough that it woke me up! Now, that's a sharp pain if I happen to be in a really deep sleep.

It took me several hours that day to somewhat shake off the discomfort of this pain thing as it felt like I had some type of new arthritic condition developing in my shoulder area.

The next two days, I was treated to the same wake-up call. Then on Monday nite, I started to notice a cluster of tiny bumps, kind of like little pimples, in the middle of my back, just above the waist. I asked my daughter to look at it and she said it looked like a little rash of tiny blisters.

Over the next two days after that, the rash grew until it went across the right half of my back, into the front midriff area and covered from the bottom of my bra to my waistband. And it started to itch and hurt, simultaneously.

I'd never had shingles before but kind of thought maybe that was what this was that had descended on me but for clarification of my suspicions, I checked out a couple of medical websites. I figured it was probably either shingles or maybe impetigo. But, since my grandson (who was then 4 months old) didn't have any little blistery things on him, I figured I was right in my original assumption of shingles.

That Friday, I went to the doctor and they gave me a prescription for some type of antibiotic and a pain pill (Lortab) and although the doctor said it would be slow to heal, the antibiotic would work - eventually.

Yeah, it did. After about 2-3 weeks, the lesions had finally begun to dry up and only a few in the middle area of my back were still a bit on the itchy side. But the Lortabs barely touched the problem of the pain that was really terrible then and is still lingering on and on and ON!

Granted, the affected area is slowly shrinking - and again, I do mean VERY SLOWLY too! Maybe in a couple years at the snails pace it is going, my midriff will be an area not completely aggravating the living daylights out of me.

But, at any rate, I have decided that if some scientist can come up with a cure for shingles, at the very least, something that will ease the pain, that person should definitely get the Nobel Prize for Medicine!

My vote would go there - if I had one in that respect!

Time to go take another lortab now.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happiness - Birthday and otherwise

Today was a big day in the household. My little Princess, Miss Maya, the beautiful little granddaughter, celebrated her third birthday today. Actually, we also celebrated it a bit last nite too with her half-sister, Sierra, being here and her Pappy - Paternal Grandpa, and Aunt Kathy and cousin Jared with cupcakes her Mommy made for her.

We found out too that Maya is also afraid of lit candles last night. Mandy got a single candle - the number three - put it on a cupcake and lit it. We turned the lights down and started to sing "Happy Birthday" to Maya who took one look at that candle burning and began to scream bloody murder. Turning her head away and all! By the time we finished singing, she did clap her hands then but when Mandy put the candle in front of her again and told her to blow it out, the screaming fired up again. So, maybe that's a good thing too that she is afraid of flames? Let's hope so anyway!

Today, I bought a small cake for her at the grocery store on my way home from Clearfield. Didn't have time today to bake one for her and a big cake would be too much for us to have here in the middle of the week as no one is that hepped up about cake in this house to begin with.

I had to go to Clearfield today to have my lab work done in preparation for the surgery next Monday. Had blood work, a chest x-ray and EKG and today, the time it took them at the hospital to get me through all three of those things was record time! Very speedy service today. The one technician, who I commented to about how quickly things were moving today though told me not to expect that everytime! Yeah, how well I know that routine.

On my way over to the hospital though, I stopped up at the Vo-Tech School where my son is currently a student in the Truck Driver Training Program to see if one particular instructor of the class was around outside anyplace. I lucked out in that when I pulled into a parking spot, there he was strolling across the parking lot.

This instructor is a guy I knew twenty some years ago when I used to waitress at Max's Restaurant - the big Truck Stop in Snow Shoe. His name is Jack Price and he used to drive tractor trailor for Preston Trucking Co. out of West Middlesex, PA. When they first started up the truck driver training program, and I saw Jack's photo in the paper then, I knew it was him. So when Clate started inquiring about the classes, etc., I told him then if he met a guy named Jack Price who was with the program, to tell him hello from me. I was pretty sure Jack would remember me from back in his driving days and my waitressing time and I was right.

But seeing him again today, really made it a little happier for me as it brought back lots of memories of some really fun times at the truck stop. Never made very much money there, worked my butt off too but also, and more importantly in the grand scheme of things, I had a really great time working there! Lots and lots of laughs every day!

For supper tonight, I made "City Chicken", buttered noodles, baked acorn squash and tossed salad. Carrie and my older grandson, Alex (age 9) came up for supper. They had been to see the dentist, from there they had gone to the nursing home in Clearfield to see Aunt Mike, my Dad's baby sister who is 89 now and her daughter, Jane Ann. Aunt Mike didn't recognize Carrie right away which bothered Carrie somewhat but she did know Alex and told Carrie she would always remember Alex because he was her favorite. Well, I know he is not her absolute favorite cause she has many "favorites" if truth be told!

When Carrie and Alex got here, before supper, Alex treated us to a rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on his trumpet - which he started taking lessons on about two weeks ago. His playing is slow, loud, very labored to be sure, but I felt the kid has done pretty good to get that much accomplished in two short weeks! Who knows, maybe we'll have another Al Hirt on our hands here someday! It could happen. It could happen. (Thanks to Judy Tenuto - a favorite comedienne of mine for that line!)

Before Carrie and Alex left to go home, she was kind enough to take pity on the old lady and my aching legs and rubbed lotion on them and my feet and massaged the calves! Gosh did that feel good. Still does for that matter. Very relaxing and stimulating all at the same time!

Now I feel like I can enjoy a little tv time tonight, take a pain pill in about an hour or so to relax me even more - so the freaking shingles when they start their incessant pinching - won't be quite as noticeable and I'll, hopefully, be able to fall asleep for a couple hours then!

Till the next time! And again, Happy THird Birthday to Maya Kirsten, Grammie's little princess! For sure, you are that my sweet angel girl!

Love, hugs and kisses from Grammy J.

Be Very Afraid!

One of the first things I learned as a parent was to be constantly on my guard if the kids - especially when they were under five years of age - got really quiet!

Now, quiet children sounds like it would be a nice thing, doesn't it? But in reality, it usually means they are up to no good, certainly nothing that will help you through the day in terms of making LESS work for you!

My son was a choice example of just that.

One day in particular that stands out in my memory with him almost ended up with me tarring and feathering him. I really, and I do mean REALLY, wanted to do just that with him.

He was probably about 2 or 3 years old - somewhere in that range - and I was busy running the vacuum throughout the house while he busied - or so I thought - playing with his accumulation of cars and trucks. Over the noise of the vacuum, I could still hear him making his car sounds, having himself a good time while I was being the "good little homemaker" trying to clean up a bit around the place.

At some point in time, I realized there was no noise coming from the living room-kitchen area where he had been playing so I figured I best go check on him.

When I did, I found him totally engrossed in the kitchen and in the middle of one of the biggest messes I have ever had to clean up.

He had gotten into the cupboard where I stored the cold cereals and had proceeded to remove every box, dump each one's contents into a huge pile on the floor, right smack dab in front of the cupboard and that pile included a full box of oatmeal too. To top all this off, he had found the bottle of syrup and proceeded to pour the syrup all over this mass of cereal.

He was wearing a pair of pajamas my mother had made for him - a two piece set (unfooted, thankfully) - of flanelette fabric and standing in the middle of this cereal and syrup concoction, the oatmeal was sticking to the pj bottoms making him look like he had just been tarred and feathered! And yes, that is, as I mentioned above, exactly what I wanted to do to him at that point in time!

Scrubbing the kitchen floor hadn't been on my priority list that morning but it became a matter of necessity, obviously.

Another stunt one of my kids pulled - not sure if it was my son or his little sister who was the culprit in this one - was to dig the "mess" out of the dirty pamper and manage to stick some of it in the electric heat register in the bedroom the two little ones were sharing at the time. This happened during the summer months when we weren't having to heat the room and somehow, whoever did this, managed to do it in a manner that it wasn't noticeable at the time.

It wasn't till that fall when we had to turn the heat on that this strange aroma started wafting through the house. After going on a "search and destroy" mission, the smell was finally tracked down to their bedroom and eventually, to the register.

Now there's a mess you don't want to have facing you either!

So, unless your little one is right before you, in full view, and gets quiet and you know they aren't getting into something that will make for a mega mess, when there is no sound coming forth, be prepared for the worst.

That's my advice for the day and I'm sticking with it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Bubble Boy"

Anyone who has had children knows getting them ready for bed, settled down - the whole drill there - can often be a bit chaotic. Right?

And with my granddaughter, Miss Maya, (who will be three this coming Wednesday) this can sometimes be quite an ordeal too. Maya has some issues with developmental delays and can, at times, get very tempermental.

For a while, Maya really enjoyed getting her evening bath, regardless of who was bathing her. If I was having a good day and felt up to getting down on the floor on my hands and knees (and able to pull myself back up to a standing position afterwards), I could bathe her or her dad could bathe her but generally, it was her Mother who did the honors there.

However, all that ended abruptly one night when her dad, while bathing her, made a dire mistake and used regular shampoo instead of the baby stuff that doesn't burn the eyes. It was months before she forgot that ordeal of the burning eyes from the shampoo getting in them and if her Daddy even suggested to her that he give her a bath, she would go into a screaming frenzy. I can't say as I blame her either as I think I may have been a tad like that too when I was a youngster if memory serves me right.

Well, eventually she did relent and will now allow her Dad to bathe her again. So, tonight, Mandy suggested he do the honors but when the subject of getting a bathe was first mentioned, she knew that was also a signal that bedtime was going to be close behind and she wasn't quite ready for that. So to cajole her into going into the bathroom and all, Mandy suggested that Bill get the bottle of bubble stuff and coax her in under the guise of "blowing bubbles."

This sounded like a good game plan to me.

Bill grabbed the little bottle of bubble stuff and the ring and Maya happily tagged along behind him into the bathroom. But, within 5 minutes time, Bill came zipping out of the bathroom, growling all the way out to the kitchen about having a hell of a mess now in the bathroom to clean up. This was because this being a new bottle of bubble stuff, it had the foil type seal on the top and as he tried to peel it back, he somehow messed up and ended up poking a hole in it instead with his finger, getting bubble stuff all over his hand, which in turn caused him to lose his grip on the bottle and it went flying. Bubble stuff splashing ALL over the bathroom floor and the bottle emptying with narry a bubble getting blown in the process. And nothing handy in the bathroom either with which to clean up the mess.

Just the look on his face as he stomped past Mandy and I, through the living room and on to the kitchen to grab a roll of paper towels and the level of grumbling he was doing, was enough to just throw Mandy and I both into absolute fits of laughter.

Enough so that it was one of those occasions when something strikes you as so comical that you can't stop laughing really hard, your sides hurt and you cry!

And Bill was seeing not a whit of humor in this entire event!

I tried desperately to stiffle the giggles, but couldn't. As he passed back through, paper towels under his arm, Mandy laughed aloud at his dilemma which kind of ticked him off a bit at us and he growled at us "Yeah, right! Go ahead and laugh!" And that just made us laugh all the more!

As we continued to snicker and listen to him grump while cleaning up the mess, I whispered to Mandy that we could now give Bill yet another nickname - just call him "Bubble Boy" which did nothing but send her into gales of laughter all over again.

Finally,he did get Maya bathed and brought her out, all dressed in her lavender jammies, looking so cute and loveable. He was by that time, a little less stressed out and could actually tell us how the whole event had unfolded. And also too, about the look on Maya's face as she turned to him and said "Bubbles, Daddy?" She just couldn't figure out what happened that there were no bubbles to be seen tonight floating in the air.

As she stood in the playpen listening to him tell this story, you could see her getting a somewhat confused, questioning look on her face and once again, she looked at him and said, "Bubbles, daddy, bubbles?"

Yep, Mandy and I both agreed that Bill will now be referred to as "Bubble Boy."

That is if we can say it to each other without totalling cracking up laughing at the mental picture again.

Sunday Morning Comin' Down - Gone Now!

I always liked that song - who sang it - Kris Kristofferson I think among others. No particular reason I chose that for a title here, other than it is Sunday today and now, as I write this, Sunday evening, so I guess it is somewhat appropriate then.

For the first time in a couple of months now, the sun, moon and stars all aligned this morning and I was able to get up, showered, dressed and made it to church!

A lot of things tend to keep me away from church lately. For the past so many weeks, dealing with these blasted shingles has been one issue. First off, I couldn't go to church because of them and the potential that I could possible pass them along to someone else in the parish, most particularly, maybe of the elderly folks who tend to be more susceptible to them. Gee, guess that means I am part of the "elderly" population now doesn't it, since I got them, but who knows from whence they came to me!

Then there's the transportation problems that sometimes crop up too - or just simply that I am babysitting if Mandy happens to have to work sometime during the Sunday morning hours. And also, there's my sleep patterns, which tend not to be very good so some mornings I may have just finally fallen asleep shortly before it is time to get up to get ready for church, which is at 9:30!

I was really looking forward to the end of this month when our church would revert back to the "normal" schedule for services instead of the summer schedule which we follow from April to the end of October. Normal times for our services have always been a service at 8:30, Sunday School at 9:45 and a second service at 11 a.m.! Now, I have always been accustomed, all my life, to the "second" service at 11 a.m. and I just learned this weekend our church is going to stay on the schedule we've used for summer time year round. That means, church at 9:30 on Sunday, followed by Sunday School about 11 a.m. and an evening service on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Well, the evening service is no easier for me to get to than is the 9:30 service due to my daughter's work schedule as well as my son-in-law's and our dinner hour!

So guess what? Looks like I am going to have to work on retraining an old dog to teach it some new tricks - like getting up earlier on Sunday mornings!

The service today was really nice though and I am very glad Mandy and I were able to go. We left Maya - the little 3-year-old wild woman - at home with her dad but took the baby, Kurtis, who just turned 6 months this past Friday along. The youth group had the service today and those kids did a really great job handling the duties too!

My neighbor's son, who just started his first semester at Penn State, was home and he and another young fellow and girl sang "Amazing Grace" acapello with some fancy interpretations tossed into the mix for good measure. Sure was beautifully done! The fact it is one of many of my favorite songs didn't hurt my opinion of their rendition either!

Leah - the girl who gave the sermon today - put some of her own thoughts into the script to give an analogy to the Gospel lesson today which pertained to it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it would be for a rich person to gain entry to heaven. Her take - she used the Penn State-Michigan game as an example, with the difficulty the Lions tend to have it seems handling the Michigan team, having two quarterbacks hurt in the second half of the game and the third stringer coming in to play in the last 4-5 minutes of the game. It was a neat way to make her point there and since the majority of our membership probably are Penn State fans and loyal supporters, etc., they could all appreciate that!

We were supposed to have a nice family dinner today with my daughter Carrie, her fiance, Robert and my older grandson, Alex, coming up but as so often happens with them, at the last minute, they called to say they wouldn't be here after all! This, after I had fixed a huge pot roast, with oodles of potatoes, carrots and cabbage all cooked nicely in the juices, a bowl of coleslaw and a big, big pan of apple crisp. The apple crisp just happens to be one of Carrie's favorite desserts too I might add.

Needless to say, I was somewhat jacked at the late cancellation there. I keep telling myself that one of these days when they say they are coming up, I am just going to fix dinner for those of us who live here - no extra portions - and set a time for us to eat and forget about their promise to be here. About the time I do that though, then they'll show up for sure I suppose. Oh well. The guys - son-in-law Bill and favorite son, Clate, will both have an ample supply of pot roast leftovers to take in their lunches this week! Probably will last them all doggone week too I suppose.

I found out today after church that we have two prayer chains at church - something I wasn't aware of before. Seems if someone contacts the pastor about putting someone on the prayer chain, it then goes into the church bulletin but if people want the message to go out on the telephone prayer chain, then you have to notify the ladies who are in charge of that process. Now, that seems a little off to me to have it organized in that fashion as I always thought if you notified the pastor or church secretary, it would automatically go out in both directions. The lady who explained this to me had come up to ask me if I wanted to be on the phone prayer chain as well as mentioned in the church bulletin which is how I came to find out about this little area of confusion. For my part, I have no problem if I am listed on the bulletin and put on the phone prayer chain too. And also, since I often can't get to church on a regular basis, I really would prefer that anyone who is placed on the prayer chain be put on both because then people like myself whose attendance often can be pretty spotty, would still be able to be informed of what's happening to other members of the parish. To me, that only makes sense. But, not necessarily for me to decide there either I guess. Just my opinion and we all know about opinions - everybody has one!

So now, the challenge for the evening hours here will be to see who will end up being the lucky person to get to wash the dishes tonight. Or maybe, there will be a small eruption as happened last night when Bill requested that Kate (the almost 15-year-old here) do the dishes and she went into quite a snit over that because "it isn't my week to do dishes!" Then she got miffed because her dad got a little sharp with her and couldn't fathom why he was being grumpy and I got ticked because she was getting a tad lippy with her dad. Good thing she wasn't here when my kids were growing up cause had they given me some lip service like that, they most likely would have recieved one royal verbal bashing along with possibly a little rap on the noggin too! (No I didn't beat my kids, but it wasn't beneath me to give them a little tap of a friendly reminder type on the old head to let them know that I was in charge, not them! Well, most of the time I tried to be in charge anyway!) Sometimes!!!!

ARRRGH! Garfield says it best huh?

So there you have it - another Sunday almost gone down.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"It's In The Bag!"

Well, one trip to Pittsburgh is over and done with and plans are now underway for the next one. I have to return for surgery on October 23rd at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital there at which time I will be the recipient of either an "End Colostomy" or an ilieostomy. Either way, you know know why I titled this piece "It's in the bag!" don't you?

The surgeon told me yesterday first off, there is no possibility of the tumor being removed - at all! Seems it has damaged the bone tissue in the lowest part of the spine and the pelvic floor so that removing the tumor would entail removing some sections of the spine and would weaken my body's support/stability system way more than would be advisable with an affect on the legs, back as well as damage to surrounding other organs and such.

He also said there are two possibilities with this tumor. One is that it may be it is an infection around the "hook-up" where the colon was reconnected after the resection operation three years ago and if that is the case, he will do an ilieostomy, try to treat the infection and possibly, get the colon to a point where the ilieostomy can be reversed. Won't give the best functionality but it's something.

The other option involves if they discover that the tumor really is malignant and if so, it will be deemed a case of recurring cancer which will mean an End Colostomy - no reversal possible then. Because I had radiation 3 years ago, he thinks I may have already reached to peak level of radiation you can receive or if not, I am probably quite close to that level so that leaves only the colostomy and chemo to try to keep things at bay.

Ok, neither scenario is all that hot, for sure. But I am trying my level best to do as it says in the old adage "If life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" Not an easy task at times but as long as those close to me try to follow that lead, we - my kids, extended family and friends and I can make the very best of what is left in my life.

There are, I am sure, plenty of folks who think they know me but who would most likely be quite surprised by my thoughts on this development in my life. Although I have been a life-long member of the Lutheran church in my community, I am probably not what many of the members would call a "good member" because I am not necessarily one of the faithful every Sunday, not always able to be a heavy contributor to the church in the financial aspect and often, can't always help out either because of having to watch the grandchildren or intermittent health issues now.

But, the fact of the matter is that I do have a very strong faith deep inside me in my Lord and Savior. I believe in the teachings of the Bible and in the tenets of my church but, sad to say, I am not always the best role model since I do indulge in a few vices here and there - nicotine for one, have always enjoyed a brew or two (or three) for openers. Plus, I can be really head-strong, stubborn as the old mule, downright obnoxious I suppose at times and have a vocabulary that might rival a lot of sailors too. Not necessarily the components of what many think of as being part of being a "Good Christian" soul.

Well, believe what you want there but God knows what is in my heart, what I have done, left undone as well and I know too that, as a sinner - which we all are, you know - he also loves and accepts me for who I am and what is inside me, not what people may think they see or know of me from the surface.

I strongly believe that life is a journey that consists of a phase where we are here and then, after death, you begin the rest of the trip! Don't know if that makes sense maybe to some people, but that's my particular take on things at any rate.

I am no different than anyone else in that I would like to live as long a life as possible, be here to share good and bad times, love and caring with my children, grandchildren, all my extended family and loads and loads of people I choose to call my friends. But, if God chooses that my life is nearing the end phase of the first part of my journey, so be it. I am not afraid of that part - have no "fear of flying" in that context!

This past week was a hard one in many ways with the medical news as well as for having attended the funeral of my Aunt on Tuesday. But, just as in the words of the closing song at her funeral - one of my favorites hymns too - "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" - that's how I view things.

So, for this sitting now, I'll close with this - Till we meet again it's in the bag!


Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Edgy Day

Well, today's the day of deprivation of food and camping out then in the bathroom and all of this in the name of medical science.

I dread these things.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for a colonoscopy to be done at UPMC (University of Pttisburgh Medical Center)Presbyterian Hospital, then a CAT Scan after than, all of which will be followed with a consultation with the surgeon there - Dr. Steven Hughes.

So, today I am on a very restricted liquid diet - black coffee and popscicles is about it unless I decide I want to tackle some chicken broth! Lovely.

Then, this afternoon, I get to drink 1 1/2 ounces of phosphos-soda (something like that name anyway), follow that with several gallons of water and wait to begin running to the bathroom. About six hours after the first dose of this concoction, I get to repeat the process.

Now, the fun part of all this. I live about a 3 hour drive away from Pittsburgh and the hospital and my dear daughter is supposed to chauffeur my fat fanny down there today. She has made reservations though at some type of place to stay that is affiliated with the hospital for a room for tonight at a reduced rate of $45 for the night. My understanding now is that this will be for me, my daughter and her fiance to stay there and that news was a trifle unsettleing to me.

Don't get me wrong here because I love my daughter's fiance very much. He's a really nice guy. But, now along with dreading the afternoon and evening because of the laxatives I have to take, the thought of a three hour drive down to Pittsburgh with my system full of laxatives and being anxious too about the procedures tomorrow, I will be a total wreck because he talks incessantly! JUst constantly jabbering about everything and anything!

When I am riding to an appointment like this, I usually try to take a book along and often also some type of handcraft project I am working on - knitting or crochet or something along those lines. And, I like to sit quietly then as we ride and read or work on this stuff as it helps relax me but I can't do that when someone is constantly talking to someone else or worse yet, asking me a ton of nonsense questions like "Are you ok, MOM?" Do you want anything or wonder what time it is or other stupid things like that. I just prefer to be left alone to concentrate on the book or the project at hand so I don't have to think or allow my mind to wander then and begin to worry about the tests they will be doing.

Then too, the thought of being confined to a small hotel room tonight while I endure the ramifications of the second dose of this powerful laxative with my daughter and this energizer bunny of a human being, is one that I don't especially look forward to either.

Why on earth she felt it was necessary for him to go with us is absolutely beyond my level of comprehension, for sure! But then, if he weren't with us, he would be calling her every 10 to 15 minutes on the freaking cell phone which is equally annoying to me because her driving makes me nervous enough at times without her fumbling around for the phone, trying to drive with one hand, not paying attention to route changes, etc! Makes me wonder at times what the hell I did to deserve this! Probably paybacks for my wild and wicked younger years when I was a mega hell raiser at times I suppose.

Oh well, such is life. I should be accustomed by now to living life on the edge but this is one edge I'd rather not be that close to, ya know!

Just say a prayer that I don't do something drastic like take my yarn and wrap it around his neck and strangle him or stab him with a knitting needle or crochet hook in order to SHUT HIM UP for at least 5-10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Catching up in Age!

Today marks a milestone for my cousin, Ray, who is much, much younger than I!

Today, he joins me in the lower echelon of senior citizen status as he turns 62 today. As I said, and as he constantly reminds me too, I am much older than he - by all of three days - so I already made my entry into this arena this past Sunday when I hit 62!

Yippy Skippy! Welcome aboard Ray. Enjoy the ride!

And, did I mention this too? HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Or as my little granddaughter, the lovely "Miss Maya" would sing it to you -

Happy happy to you, Happy happy to you, Happy Happy Ray, Happy happy to you!

Maya hasn't quite mastered ALL the words to the song just yet, but she's working on it. Along with getting better at doing the Penn State Cheer too! YEAAAA!


And now - WE ARE - 62!

Sadness Mixed With Beauty

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I have encountered in a long, long time.

My son, Clate and I drove up to Corry, PA to attend the funeral for our beloved aunt - Mary Ann Mauk Eld.

If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you've heard my many comments about Aunt Mary and how much she meant to me, how important a person she had been from the time she entered into my family via marriage to my Mom's younger brother, Clarence "Cookie" Eld, back in the summer of 1947.

Walking into the church yesterday was joyful as I saw cousins I hadn't seen in many years but also painful too as prior to the service, the pain of losing such an integral part of our lives was more than evident as we held each other and tears flowed.

The service though which was indeed a celebration of her life, how well she had lived it and especially too, how well she handled her own passage from this world into the next, was one in which the minister pinpointed exactly what a beautiful person this woman had been. The music was equally inspiring and all of this combined to make for a very uplifting service at a time when it is often difficult to see the good of one's leaving this world, family and friends behind.

Aunt Mary would have loved it for all of those things.

This event was the first time I had been together with those four cousins - children of Aunt Mary and Uncle Cookie - since their Dad's death 25 years earlier in September of 1981. It was so great to see my cousin Sue again and how much she looks like her mother. Her brother Tom, who I'd seen last November when he brought his Mom to Pittsburgh to visit me while I was recuperating from surgery at Allegheny General, and I had a chance to talk about a few things relating to family. He told me he has all the old photos that had belonged to our oldest aunt and her husband - both who died in March of 1982 - and he is going to drop that box off at his sister Becky's house for me. Fantastic! Going through those photos is something my daughter Carrie and I are both very much looking forward to in the near future!

Ken - the oldest of the children - looks superb! Very distinquished in appearance now that his hair is all white and sets off his South Carolina suntan very nicely. He looks (to me) like the epitomy of a southern gentleman, for sure. Laura, Ken's wife, hasn't changed a lick - still the quick smile, friendly demeanor as always - and just so great to see both of them once again. Their daughters - Erika and Allyson - are both such beautiful young women now - tall, statuesque, looking like Swedish models with their long blonde hair and fair complexions. Erika had just learned within the past month that she and her husband Wade, will be adding to the Eld Family tree next May, which gave me something else to tease her Dad about - impending grandfatherhood! I've been telling Ken for several years now that having grandchildren is the absolute best thing in the whole wide world and I'm sure come next summer, he will understand fully what I have meant in those preachings to him.

And Becky - the baby of not just that particular family but the "baby" in terms of being the last of the grandchildren to come along to our grandparents - is just a gem. Look at Becky and you also see one of our older cousins - Barbara. These two look enough alike to make one think they must be sisters!

Tom's three children were there - Amie, his oldest, who very much resembles her Dad, I hadn't seen for probably 15 years or so when she used to come to the family reunion with Ken and Laura and their girls and who now is married, living in Michigan and trying to find a teaching position there. Tom's sons - Ricky and Cory - are certainly two very handsome young men too. Cory, like his sister Amie, bears a strong resemblance to his dad too. I was teasing him that he is the "famous" one of the family in that with his birth and naming, we (the Eld Clan) actually now have a real "Corry Eld." OUr family has a tendancy to label each branch of the tree by what geographic area the bulk of them lived in - Aunt Anna Skogsberg's family moved to Greensburg, PA back in the 40's, so they were always referred to as the "Greensburg" people; a lot of Uncle August's family lived up and around the Syracuse, NY area so naturally, they were the "Syracuse" folks. And, since Cookie and Aunt Mary made their home in Corry, PA, they became the "Corry Elds." Makes sense, doesn't it?

I wish there had been much more time available to spend with those cousins to catch up on what they've been doing over the years. We don't correspond near enough, rarely see each other except on occasions like funerals now and that really needs to change if it is at all possible. But, since Sue lives down in Texas, Ken is in South Carolina now, that only leaves Tom and Becky still in good old PA and although we do have much better means to travel around in now than were available to our families when we were kids, we seem less inclined to do that. And that is really sad.

Sue and I had so much fun talking about all the rattletrap vehicles her dad owned over the years - especially the old jeep they had as their family car for a long time back in the 50's! I remember on the occasions they would come back home here for a visit and when they would pile into that heap, how our older uncle, Ralph, would shake his head and say a few prayers under his breath that they would make it back to Corry all in one piece! Times were tough then as Cookie and Mary struggled to survive on the wages a school teacher earned back then while trying to finish building their home up in Corry. It took a long, long time before they finally got that house done but once completed, it really was a beautiful ranch-type house and a very comfortable home.

So many memories come to mind as I think of all my summer vacation times spent at that house up on Carter Hill Road outside of Corry - days packed with so much fun, games, animals, wilderness, playing in the dirt from dawn to dusk and just filled with lots and lots of love! Words are difficult to find to explain those feelings about the place, the people and how much all of that part of my life meant then and still does to me today.

Driving back home, as my son and I passed along the Allegheny River coming down from Warren into Tionesta, we both marveled at the beauty of the countryside there. There is sort of a magical quality about that river as it flows along past quaint camps and cabins as well as larger homes, newer ones, plain and fancy alike and yet, the setting still seems to have an aura about it that makes one able to imagine being an early explorer on the river - a wild untamed scenic beauty that even civilization as we know it today hasn't marred.

Kind of makes one feel the excitement of being on a new journey, into a new land and thus, a fitting thought perhaps as Aunt Mary has now begun her journey into that realm. And, will be waiting to greet me someday too -perhaps with milk and those wonderful snickerdoodle cookies she always made. In the words of the closing him from the service yesterday - "Till We Meet Again!"

Definitely something to look forward to!

Monday, October 09, 2006

After The Ball

Yesterday was one busy day for me, which explains maybe why I didn't get around to posting anything all day then.

For openers, my body - specifically my back, left leg and intestines - has been giving me more fits the past couple of days than I really care to deal with. What had become the norm before then was more than adequate in my opinion so I don't exactly welcome the addition of the new aches and pains in my left side - in addition to those already swirling around along my right side, down the ribcage there, which are being caused by the case of shingles I've been trying to heal from for the past 5 plus weeks. Enough, already!

But yesterday also just happened to be my birthday. Yeah, I hit the big 62 mark so now I am really, officially, a senior citizen - on the lower tier though. Age 65 is the true line of demarcation in my book, you know.

My daughter, Mandy, fixed a very nice dinner - lasagne and garlic bread - and the two middle step-grandchildren were here for the day and for dinner as well as my "favorite son". Then, after supper, two of my neighbors (and best friends) Kate and Shirley stopped by for cake and to chit chat - something we don't do very often. Kate is the same age as me and we have been best friends since we were first able to walk and talk. Shirley is Kate's oldest sister and is 8 years older than us but has become a very close friend to me over the past 30 plus years since I moved back to the home area. Both are really great people and I am very blessed to have them both as close friends and a part of my life for ALL these past 62 years now.

My little granddaughter, who will be 3 on the 18th of this month - had learned to sing the "Birthday song" about two weeks ago now - so we were really anxious to see how she reacted yesterday to my cake and everyone singing "happy birthday" to me. It was too cute! She was in her high chair and as everyone began to sing, she got very quiet - just sat there looking around at everyone with a look of wonderment on her face as if to say "What the heck is going on here anyway?" When the family and friends finished singing, then Maya started to sing by herself and clapped when she finished her rendition for all of us! Yep, as I said - just too cute for words, really!

My kids and I decided how we are going to handle the funeral stuff for my Aunt who passed away on Friday. My girls, Carrie and Amanda, are going to drive up to Corry this afternoon for the evening viewing and tomorrow, my son is going to skip his truck driver training classes for the day and will drive me up so he and I can then attend the funeral. There was no way all four of us could attend together due to the girls work schedules and Clate's schedule too so we decided this would be the best way for all concerned. There is no way I can drive up there myself due to my back and leg problems and other health issues so it worked out best to do it this way. And I am happy as I will then get to see my four cousins, their spouses and hopefully all their children too along with another cousin at the funeral and be able to pay my last respect to a wonderful lady I was truly blessed to have had for an Aunt, mentor and above all, such a great, great friend for so many years!

On Saturday, when my daughter and I went to Clearfield for groceries, we had her two little ones with us and stopped at the nursing home over there where my Dad's baby sister and her daughter are now residing. That Aunt is 89 years old; her daughter, age 49, is severely mentally and physically challenged, and they were removed from the family homestead on August 31st and placed in this nursing home. That was a move that my aunt is still very upset about - and trust me, I do understand her point of view there as it took away her last shred of independence and was very painful for her. However, it was a move that was long, long overdue as those two should not have been alone in that house as long as they had been. And, knowing they are in the nursing home now, gives me - and another cousin who lives nearby a lot of peace of mind now knowing they are safe and being cared for!

We saw my cousin Mike and his wife as we were going into the home and spoke to them for a while before going in to see our aunt. That cousin has power of attorney for our aunt and I am really glad it is him, not me, who has to make all these hard decisions for her! I may not always agree with some of his methods in how this was all handled but I definitely agree that he has made the best move possible to assure they are being cared for properly and are in the place best for both of them! Although he and I had some words between us about 2 1/2 months ago pertaining to our aunt - actually HE had words for me which really hurt and I was somewhat afraid of seeing him again for fear of another confrontation with him so when he and his wife were both very friendly to Mandy and me and with the little ones too, it did make for an easier transition then and hopefully, we will revert back to some normalcy in our lives now.

I'm trying to get myself geared up and my system braced for the trip this Thursday to Pittsburgh, the "house cleaning" I will have to give my system that day in preparation for a colonoscopy to be done at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital on Friday and other tests plus a consultation then in the afternoon there with the surgeon handling me now. Hopefully, he will then give me a fairly reasonable timeline in which to prepare myself for upcoming abdominal surgery - the third in three years now - and maybe this one will leave me better able to deal with issues in my intestines! Pray it all works that way!

So, with a busy week now ahead, I need to get cracking, get back to work on my local township/village research, finish up a baby blanket I've been crocheting for the past 5 months or so and keep my mind focused in a good frame of thought!

Just need to keep telling myself - like the little red choo-choo train from the children's books you know - "I think I can, I think I can!"