Monday, September 24, 2007

Changes of Scenery

Yesterday was another really long day here.

I was up until almost 2:30 in the morning Saturday night/Sunday morning - cooking. Yes cooking a casserole dish at that hour! The reason being yesterday was the last Sunday the pastor we've had for the past 4 1/2 years would be at our church as he has accepted a call to another church - in Bloomsburg, PA - and he and his wife are moving today and tomorrow to that town.

So, after church yesterday - as is the tradition of our church whenever there is some big event taking place - we have a pot luck dinner. This time it was to wish Pastor Joel and his wife Ruth well in their new home, in his new post as the pastor of the Lutheran church in that community.

The church service itself was very nice; all went quite well until the closing hymn which was "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" and considering the fact many attending the service had been present the day before when our good friend, Zippy, had been laid to rest plus the fact that most of the parishioners liked this minister and his wife, so it was a song that definitely brought forth a lot of tears, a lot of hankies and kleenex, clearing of throats, stiffling sobs by some who were extremely close to the pastor. But we managed to have a very nice dinner after the service, still some teary eyes here and there, but a more uplifting feeling though as we know the odds are that we will still see Pastor and Ruth again perhaps from time to time.

Saturday afternoon, as I was trying to figure out what I should fix for the dinner yesterday, my daughter was kind of pushing me to make a casserole dish I frequently make and take to these events - ham and bean potpie - which is sort of a Pennsylvania Dutch type thing but it always goes over quite well at these affairs. Mandy reminded me if I don't make that H&B potpie thing, our neighbor across the street is going to be really miffed with me cause he loves it. I was kind of leaning towards fixing a new recipe I'd just tried earlier this week and which I'd found at one of my favorite blogger's site - Lazy Man's Pierogies, I think is the name of it. So, to help me decide what to make, I had Mandy call the neighbors to see if they were going to be at the dinner and when they said no, they weren't attending this one, I decided then not to make the potpie dish. However, I didn't use the new recipe I'd found either but sort of revamped another dish I really like - fried cabbage and noodles!

The cabbage/noodle dish is something I'd never had until I worked at a truckstop in Snow Shoe, PA and the family who owned/ran that restaurant we of Slovak ethnicity often served the cabbage and noodles as a special from time to time. I'd requested the recipe for that from Marian, the owner of the place back in the 80's and after the first time I had ever fixed it for my kids, it became a big favorite in this house. Same thing too with the H&B potpie - I'd never had it before until I worked at the Plaza truckstop in Milesburg, PA and they often ran that as a special there every THursday for many years. WHen I fixed that for my kids, they also loved it. I've since then made the H&B potpie for church dinners as well as often taking it to our family reunion as well. I'm happy to report that the fried cabbage and noodles (I used spiral pasta in it this time though) was a big success and there was none of it left to bring back home when the dinner was over!

Yesterday afternoon, I had to run up to the parsonage to take the card my kids and I had to give to Pastor and Ruth -with our little "going-away" gift in it (I forgot it in my rush to get out to the church before the dinner began) and when I went up there, I took Miss Maya with me in hopes that maybe a little brief outing might settle her a bit since she was being a lot on the crabby side at home. She was fine in the car while I talked awhile with Pastor and when we left there, I decided to take a little drive around the community. In doing so, as I passed by the Covenant Free Church, I noticed one of our township supervisors, his wife and grandchild were there and they were letting the little granddaughter have some quality playtime on the playground that church has adjacent to their parking lot. So I turned around and pulled in, figuring maybe Maya might enjoy the playground a bit too. Plus, I wanted to thank the supervisor himself, as he is a long-standing member of our local volunteer fire company, for the firemen and their display of respect the day before to Zippy.

While I was talking to him and trying to keep an eye on Maya too -out of the corner of my eye -she and the other little girl had decided to get on the merry-go-round at the playground. Now this is not the kind that you might be thinking - not horses, not musical, not that kind of thing but just this big thing that the kids sit on and it revolves from a little bit of a push. Well, Maya was on it and the other little girl was pushing it but she of course, was unaware that Maya doesn't comprehend things very well. She got it moving pretty fast and Maya decided she wanted to get off and in trying to get off while it was still moving, you can imagine what happened there, can't you. I glanced over just in time to see that thing almost whizzing around and could see Maya trying to get down before any of us could possibly get there to stop it and she ended up rolling off, into a bit of a ball in the dirt path around it. Scared to death! And that was just my reaction! Maya, picked herself up, and was crying as I got to her, picking her up to soothe her, brush the dirt off too cause yes, she did get pretty dirty in that fall. But in looking her over as I was cuddling her, I could see she wasn't drastically hurt - no cuts, no broken bones or anything like that - and before I knew it, she was scrambling to get down and be off, running again with the other little girl.

It was then that I was certain this hadn't been a good move - taking her to this little playground because I knew - boy did I know this - that when it came time for me to get her to go back to the car, to leave, she was going to throw one royal meltdown fit with me. And yes indeed, she sure did that too!

I had explained to the supervisor and his wife that Maya has issues, doesn't always comprehend things properly, and also, that she really doesn't understand how to play with other children as yet. They both nodded in understanding as I explained that she has autism and then I remembered, his wife is a school teacher (teaches elementary kids) plus his brother's younger daughter also is autistic so they are more familiar and understanding then of how kids often react/respond when they have this disorder. If Maya would have had her way, when it came time to leave, she probably would have been really peaceable about it if she'd been leaving to go with the "mom and the dad and the kid and the puppy, Snowball!" That's what I had to listen to the whole way home from the playground to the house - her crying over and over, "Wan see the Mom and the Dad and the kid and the Snowball!" You can bet your bottom dollar though the next time she sees the supervisor out someplace, she's gonna remember him and want to go see "The Snowball."

Last evening, Mandy decided she was in no mood to cook -not really a big surprise there as she and the kitchen don't generally operate on really friendly terms (translated - she doesn't like to cook, at all) and I really didn't feel much like cooking either so we all piled into my van and headed up to a little restaurant about six miles from home - The West Branch Dairy Diner - also generally referred to around these hills as "The Pumpkin House" since the building is painted a bright orange. The food there is nothing fancy but it's good and the prices are relatively reasonable too.

Just trying to keep Maya seated was a challenge in and of itself! She wanted to sit in a booth, then she wanted to sit at a table for two, then it was a table for four and she didn't want to come sit down by her dad at the larger table where we decided we were going to sit. Finally bribed her to come sit down by showing her the zip-lock bag of crayons and the Bratz coloring book Mandy had brought along for just such purposes! Thankfully, we managed to order, eat and even had a little dessert before her patience level and interest in coloring ran out! Just in the nick of time that we were finished and ready to leave, that was!

Even when she is fairly well behaved though out in public, just being on edge with her to keep her fairly well occupied and contained is quite a draining experience at times so by the time we got back home, I was totally whipped and to the amazement of some of you readers who have asked me on occasion "when do you sleep" (because I am often online in the middle of the night sometimes to the wee hours of the morning), I went to bed at 9 p.m.! And apparently my system was saying something to me too that I really needed sleep and lots of it too, because I didn't get up until almost 8:30 this morning!

Now, for me, that really is quite a change of scenery!

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